The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team and riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi revved their hearts as they commenced the 2020 MotoGP action at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto. Riding for the first time in more than four months, they took part in two crucial 90-minute test sessions ahead of this weekend’s Gran Premio de España and secured first and fifth place in the combined timesheets.
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 15th July 2020
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team and riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were on a mission today. They used the 180 minutes of track time to the fullest in order to open the 2020 MotoGP Championship in the best condition possible – and they ticked all the boxes. The team-mates powered through a list of setting tweaks items and secured first and fifth place in the combined rankings.

Viñales continued the mindset he adapted in the earlier tests in Malaysia and Qatar (held pre-lockdown). Instead of putting in a fast benchmark lap, he completely focused on getting the feeling and the base set-up of his YZR-M1 right, in preparation for this weekend’s Gran Premio de España. After completing 29 laps, he ended the first session in 13th place, 1’38.863s, 0.922s from the top.

The second session came to an abrupt halt when after 9.5 minutes Danilo Petrucci and Alex Marquez crashed due to oil leaked from Aleix Espargaró’s bike, causing a red-flag situation. Following a thorough cleaning job by the marshals, the lights at the end of pit lane turned green again. Despite the interruption, the number-12 rider managed to cover a lot of ground in the afternoon. Gradually improving his time, he worked himself up inside the top five and went on to take over the number one spot on lap 28/31, with a 1’37.793s and a 0.118s gap to second place.

Rossi got the strong start he wished for. He was quick to head out at 10am in order to squeeze out the maximum potential from the 90 minutes he could spent on track in the morning. He focused on getting a good feeling with his YZR-M1 for the majority of the available time but did find an opportunity to put in a quick lap at the end of the session, securing third place in the rankings, with a 1’38.222s, 0.281s from first.

In the afternoon, the Italian moved on to working on different settings. Perfecting the race set-up will be crucial for the upcoming Spanish GP, as the weather forecasts predict it will be very hot and sunny weekend. The Doctor put in 32 laps on top of the 32 laps he rode in the morning. His 1’39.302s time in the afternoon put him in 16th place in the second session results, 1.509s from the front. However, his morning time earned him fifth in the combined Jerez test day rankings, 0.429s from his team-mate in first place.
Massimo Meregalli

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

It’s great to be back! But we had little time to feel euphoric this morning because we had a lot of work to do. First and foremost, we wanted to give Maverick and Valentino the opportunity to get comfortable with their bikes again. But besides letting them build confidence, we also needed to compare the data from the earlier tests and see how they translate to this track. The characteristics here are of a different nature than the Sepang and Losail circuits. Normally when we arrive in Jerez we already have some races under our belts, but this time we’re starting from zero, so that made today’s track activity extra important. So far, we have done a solid job. We have two riders in the top 5 today, though we still have some work to do in certain areas. But anyway, we are looking forward to the free practice sessions on Friday.
Maverick Viñales

Maverick Viñales

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

Very happy to be back. It’s very nice to ride my M1 again as it’s always very exciting. We have been working hard especially thinking about the race, that was our main goal today. We tried to see how the bike works in these incredibly high temperatures, and we are surprised that our level is so high. So, I’m really looking forward to the weekend as I felt really good on the bike, and that’s very important. The bike is in perfect shape, and now we have to get the most out of it. I'm feeling happy and confident for this weekend. Last year's bike was also working well here, but this year I can attack the corners in a different way by braking very hard, which will give me an advantage when I overtake. But we need to make another improvement in that area, that will be my main focus this weekend, because this track is not easy.
Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

It’s been a strange situation, I've never stayed away from my MotoGP bike for this long. But I'm in good shape because I trained a lot. This morning was good. I put in a good lap time with the soft tyre during the time attack. In the afternoon, I struggled a bit. We need to work on the pace. We can compare Jerez to Malaysia. The conditions are different though, the heat here is drier than Sepang. When you ride it’s difficult to breathe as you get lots of hot air into your face. It will be challenging for the race.

We won’t be able to confirm the Petronas SRT deal now. I haven't signed yet, but we have decided together with Yamaha and Petronas SRT to talk about 2021. I've already spoken with Razlan Razali, Wilco Zeelenberg, and Johan Stigefelt and I have good feelings about it, but it's not true that I already signed as there are still some details that we have to work out, but most likely I will be here in 2021!