Movistar Yamaha ready to rumble after successful Saturday

P2 for Rossi and P4 for Viñales in qualifying as both Yamahas set sights on a podium finish in Thailand

As qualifying margins go, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) couldn’t have been much closer to a second pole of the season after narrowly losing out to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.011 of a second. Nonetheless, a P2 launch for ‘The Doctor’ and a P4 starting slot for teammate Maverick Viñales gives both factory Yamaha riders every chance of challenging for that elusive first win since Assen 2017 in Buriram.

“When you lose the pole position to a small difference, it’s always a shame,” admitted Rossi, who will fire his YZR-M1 machine off the front row for the first time since the Czech GP. Good news for the Italian: “But it’s more like good news than bad news because last week, in Aragon, I started 18th, now I’m second. This weekend, I feel good with the bike since Friday. Today, together with the team, we followed the right way. We were able to improve the balance of the bike. It looks like the bike makes the tyre work in a good way. I’m very happy to start on the front row and I’m also very happy about my pace because, with the race tyre, I’m fast. I have a good pace, so I think that I can do a good race.”

Rossi proved he had good race pace in FP4 when ran in the low 1:31s on a used set of Michelin tyres, but what is the target for the nine-time World Champion on Sunday afternoon? “The podium is the target, I hope, but tomorrow we have to confirm,” expressed the 39-year-old. “This year, with the Yamaha, from one day to another, you never know. So I hope to be strong and I hope to try to have a race to fight for the podium, this is the target, especially to have a good race and try to fight with Marquez and Dovizioso who are the fastest.”

Another rider who will be hoping to join the fight for the podium is Viñales. Q2 didn’t quite go to plan for the Spaniard after opting to choose a medium front, with the feeling on the hard front a lot better: “Yes for sure, I made some mistakes on my best lap, especially with the front tyre. I should have chosen the hard, but I chose the medium tyre just to be safer, but I feel much better on the hard tyre.”

However, P4 is still a good starting position for the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion, who like Rossi was pleased with his FP4 pace on used tyres and the feeling he has this weekend on board his M1: “For sure I feel much better, I mean in FP4 I felt really good with used tyres, we need to improve the bike a little bit more to go one more step in the direction we went in FP4, this can be really positive. So the small details will make tomorrow’s race a little bit easier and for sure more competitive.”

A titanic tussle in Thailand awaits and on paper, it looks like the two Movistar Yamaha machines will be in amongst it at the front. With temperatures set to soar, time will tell if Sunday will prove to be a success for the two blue bikes...

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