Movistar Yamaha Continue Battle with Elements in First Japanese FP Sessions

The weather was the biggest challenge for Viñales this morning. He found himself starting Yamaha’s home GP weekend in the pouring rain, and he had to up his pace gradually, careful not to cross the limit. Despite the treacherous conditions, which made it harder to get heat into the tyres and caused impaired vision due to the spray, he started working on his YZR-M1’s setting. The Spaniard took ninth in FP1 with a 1’56.917s best lap, 1.499s from the front.

The Yamaha Factory rider looked more confident during the second 45-minute session. Working on corner entry and minimising rear spin, he found a better pace, posting multiple 1’57s laps to ultimately secure 11th place with a fastest lap of 1’56.376s. He was again 1.499s from the leader and ended up in 11th position in the combined results.

Teammate Rossi took his time in FP1 to get up to speed at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The track’s various heavy braking zones make it vital to get the tyres up to temperature. Despite still recovering from his leg injury, the nine-time World Champion made progress, especially towards the end of the session, and finished 19th with a lap of 1’58.618s, 3.200s from first.

With the weather conditions barely improving for FP2, the Doctor made some changes to increase downforce. He started working on the feeling of the rear of his bike going into the corners, and was able to improve his time by more than two seconds to a 1’56.435s by the end of the day. He finished less than 1.558s from the top, good for 12th position. The result also keeps him in 12th place in the combined times, ahead of tomorrow’s sessions.

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