It was “objective achieved” for Maverick Viñales on Saturday at the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland after qualifying third on the grid for Sunday’s 30-lap Sachsenring battle. But the question is: can Viñales take it to the undisputed King of the Ring Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)?
The Yamaha rider managed to get the better of Marquez in FP4, a session that sees the riders try different tyre combinations and bike settings for the race. 0.075 split the duo at the end of FP4, with Viñales doing three runs in the session compared to Marquez’ two.
Run number three was Viñales’ best. With a front medium and brand-new soft rear, the Assen winner was able to do six consecutive low 1:21s at the end of FP4, with a 1:21.153 his best time. Marquez did a longer opening stint on a hard front, medium rear, with the seven-time Champion managing 10 consecutive 1:21s, nine of them in the lower end of that bracket. Marquez then pitted, came out on the same set of tyres and managed to do four more mid to low 1:21s, including his personal best time of the session.
Will Viñales be able to make a soft rear Michelin slick tyre last 30 laps? Managing tyre degradation is something the number 12 pinpoints as “crucial”, with Viñales still unsure as to what tyre he will race with.
“I’m really happy because we achieved today’s objective. It’s true that we could have done better, but we are improving the bike quite a lot,” commented the 24-year-old. “I didn’t expect to be that close in qualifying, because the gap was bigger in FP3. We need to keep working like this. I feel great on the bike, especially my rhythm is good, but it will be very important to make another step this evening.
“We are going to try our best to go for the win. Managing tyre degradation will be crucial tomorrow, so we’re going to try to make that work for us. I don’t know which tyre I will use yet, because the weather will be very different from what we had today.”
Viñales makes a good point about conditions. The forecast suggests we could see rain at the Sachsenring on Sunday morning, so track temperatures for a dry MotoGP™ race would likely be lower than what we’ve seen during Saturday. No matter what mother nature brings, dethroning Marquez will be incredibly difficult, but Viñales – on paper – looks best equipped to play the leading role, along with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT).
Can Viñales challenge Marquez and claim a second victory of the season? The Sachsenring 2019 showdown awaits. Tune in to watch the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) to find out who will take the last 25-point haul before the summer break.