Viñales leads the charge amid mixed fortunes for Yamaha

Viñales sixth, Rossi out the top ten – and Zarco P18?! It was a mixed bag on Day 1 in Germany

Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was top Yamaha on Friday at the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, but despite his good position on the timesheets the Spaniard confirmed what the showing for his fellow Iwata marque machines suggested: it was a tough day at the office.

“The first day has been very difficult,” begins the Spaniard. “I’m very focused and pushing at my best every lap. We have a difficult bike, between one track and another it changes so much but the Sahcsenring is a good track for me. I’m giving everything because I want to be at the front but we have a lot to improve.”

What’s the difference for Viñales compared to the Ducati-dominated upper echelons, then?

“It’s slippery and you need good electronics. We’re a step behind on that, we are working really hard and I think tomorrow we have a lot of room to improve.”

That’s a hope echoed by his teammate Valentino Rossi, and the ‘Doctor’ specified further: “We have a lot of problems in acceleration, if we try to put the power down we spin the rear tyre a lot and suffer, we lose drive. We tried to do something this afternoon but unfortunately we couldn’t improve so we have to try and be stronger tomorrow…”

And what of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Johann Zarco and rookie Hafizh Syahrin? On Day 1 it was actually the Malaysian in P16, 0.007 ahead of Rossi, with Zarco in P18 a further 0.003 in arrears. For Zarco, however, it wasn’t actually a tough day per se.

“I can’t say it was a tough day. At the end of the session, I didn’t try to put on a new soft rear tyre to have an improvement and be in the top 10 like the other riders. I wanted to keep the used one and work on it and the work is going well. So, I think it’s important. Tomorrow, I’ll cross my fingers for FP3 to have good conditions and be able to improve the lap time. I need it to get straight into Q2 so it’s going to be different work on Saturday morning, just to be fast. Today was work for the race. Almost 30 laps we’re going to do here during the race and it’s difficult so, with this experience, I want to feel good in that moment and then for the one lap time it’ll be another story on Saturday.”

What a difference a year makes for the Frenchman, after a tough rookie weekend at the Sachsenring in 2017. And, he confirms, he has had a look at then-teammate Jonas Folger’s data after the home hero took second last season.

“I try to understand what he did well and I think, now, with one more year’s experience, I understand a little bit better than last year. So, I’m happy. He said on corner 11 he was so strong. I don’t know if I’m fast like him – I didn’t check the data yet – but I’m getting more confident here. Even 21.07… 21.08… I never did it here, so, step by step, I’m back on the Folger level to fight for podium!”

See if Zarco – and Rossi – can make it into that top ten for Q2 entry when FP3 begins at 9:55 (GMT +2).