Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales ventured out on the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit in the first free practice sessions of the weekend, riding in various conditions to secure eighth and tenth respectively in today's combined session timesheets.

Le Mans (France), 19th May 2017

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team riders started their quests at the Grand Prix de France today with the first free practice sessions, ahead of Sunday's race. Valentino Rossi showed a solid pace in the mixed conditions and landed eighth place in the combined session times, slightly ahead of teammate Maverick Viñales, who posted the tenth fastest time.

 

Rossi was true to his word, spoken in the run-up to the weekend in Le Mans. He wanted to make a strong start to the French GP and he quickly matched his pace with the front runners. Having breached into the top5, he shifted his attention to the setting of his YZR-M1. With the track drying and the pace picking up, he set a best time of 1'40.894s for eighth place, 3.427s from first.

 

The soaking wet conditions in the afternoon, didn’t stop the Doctor booking progress. He quickly moved up to provisional second place and spent the remaining 30 minutes focusing on improving his setting before putting it to the test in the final stages. He wrapped up the second session with a tenth fastest time of 1'43.006s, 1.333s from the front and held on to eighth place in the combined standings, thanks to his morning time.

 

Viñales started the morning session with the goal to continue the progress made in the Jerez test and spurted to the top of the timesheets 15 minutes into FP1, with a 1’42.546s. He spent the rest of the time comparing settings, bettering his fastest lap to a 1’41.307s in the process, and finished in tenth place, 3.840s from the front.

 

The Spaniard was quick to pick up where he left off during FP2, this time in full wet conditions after a midday downpour. He soon moved into the top4 as he continued to perfect the set-up of his YZR-M1. He saved his best for his last stint and dropped a 1'42.894s to end FP2 in eighth place, 1.221s from the top. Unable to improve on his fastest lap from this morning, he remained in tenth position in the combined standings.
Massimo Meregalli

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

Today’s morning conditions were exactly what we hoped to avoid. The track was still drying in the morning, which meant that we were unable to collect any really good information, like we did in the fully wet afternoon session. Even though it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain over the next two days, it’s been important to ride in the wet, as this allowed us to make another step in terms of the set-up for rainy conditions. We expect that it will be dry from now on and we will start FP3 with the information that we collected two weeks ago during the Le Mans test, especially concerning Maverick. Vale will continue to evaluate the two different settings he compared in FP1 which gave him a good impression.

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider

For sure it's more difficult in these conditions, but for us it's also very important to try to understand the feeling of the bike in the wet, because in Jerez we suffered also a lot in these conditions. In the end I'm just tenth, so the position is not fantastic, but the feeling with the bike improved and throughout the practice I was always in a good position. I think that at the end with the new tyre I needed a few more laps to get some heat in, but the feelings are better. We worked a lot on corner entry and it's not so bad, but now we have to understand our pace in the dry and we hope for good conditions tomorrow.

Maverick Viñales

Maverick Viñales

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider

For me it was a good day, because we could improve the bike a bit in the rain and I feel comfortable already with the bike. I think step by step we are improving in the rain. In the end, I didn't put in the soft tyre, I was too late, I could only get two laps in on the dry tyres. For me, ultimately, the position doesn't matter, it's the feeling in the wet and that we improved the bike that counts. I hope it will stay dry so we can work well. Our bike is working good here, so we can do a good result again.