According to Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director Massimo Meregalli, Sunday’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix provides the Iwata manufacturer with their first chance to claim victory this season.
Michelin Ideal Lap at Phillip Island
“I would say that this is the first time we have a real option to win,” claims Meregalli. “We have a good pace and we can be competitive. We will have to continue tomorrow in the Warm up, but we have worked very well.” Hugely positive words then for Yamaha, but what do their riders think about the possibility of winning a Grand Prix for the first time in 25 races?
Well, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has given himself every chance by qualifying in P2: “Qualifying was good. I was expecting more but when I got to sector 4 it was raining and I could not finish my lap,” began the Spaniard, who won the Moto2™ race at Phillip Island in 2014 while also finishing on the podium in his last two premier class visits.
Viñales didn't even get his best run!
He continued: “The team and the bike are working really well. We’re not actually doing anything on the setup; just riding and riding. I’m happy and getting used to the bike. After Japan, I was pretty disappointed, but it seems that the bike is working better here and I can be more constant, especially on the fast corners.” And the win? “I want to be the one that pulls away a bit. We’ll try our best. I think I have potential, but I have to risk a bit. We have to watch the performance of the tyre also. Andrea (Iannone) is also really fast, so we’ll see.”
Fellow M1 rider Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) lines up alongside Viñales on the front row in third. Can the Frenchman pull something out of the hat and claim a maiden premier class victory?
“I’m very happy to qualify in third because it’s an advantage for tomorrow,” said Zarco, who has a main target of the podium but remains confident he can run with the front guys. “My race pace is not too bad, better than I got in Japan. I hope for good weather on Sunday to give me more confidence and fight with the top guys, enjoy the moment and think about the podium.”
Zarco: "I was scared of the rain, so I'm happy for third"
And finally, what about the last rider to claim a MotoGP™ victory: Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)? The Italian starts P7 on the grid but ‘The Doctor’ is confident after showing strong pace in FP3 and FP4:
“It’s not been a bad Saturday because I’ve improved my pace and my feeling with the bike. I was strong in FP3 and 4,” confirmed the nine-time World Champion, who will be hoping a repeat of his 2014 win is on the cards.
“This is important for the race. Unfortunately, the qualifying conditions were very difficult because you have to go in the rain, on the slick and push at 100%, so you have to be very brave. I will start seventh, which isn’t fantastic but row three isn’t too bad. The weather will be very important, we hope for sun. After, the tyre choice will be important. Then, the work we can do between now and tomorrow, so we’ll have to see and I hope to be competitive for the race.”
Rossi positive despite difficult Qualifying session
Can Yamaha break the winless streak? There will be three hard-charging YZR-M1s launching from the line when the line wanting to do so in what is set to be a blistering battle on the Island.
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