Movistar Yamaha Pile on Pressure in Phillip Island Qualifying

Viñales was quick out of the gates at the start of the 15-minute Q2 heat. His first flying lap of 1’30.116 saw him very briefly hold eighth place, but he was just getting started. His third attempt saw him climb up to sixth, behind his teammate, but there was yet more in store for him. He headed back to the pit lane for a tyre change with less than seven minutes of the session remaining.

Two minutes later the Spaniard was back out on track and showed he meant business, immediately dropping a 1’29.146s lap to swap places with teammate Rossi, for fifth place. He kept piling on the pressure on his next lap and briefly secured pole with a 1’28.719s, before being pushed back to second place, by 0.333s. Thanks to this strong performance, he will start tomorrow’s race from the first row of the grid.

Rossi had to negotiate his way through Q1 and made it look easy. He was one of the last riders to leave the box to be ensured of some clear track as he fought for a place in Q2. His first flying lap put him in fifth place, but it soon turned out that this was only a dress rehearsal for the 1’29.665s he posted on his next try, which secured him provisional first place.

Unable to improve on his next attempt, he ended his first run with six and a half minutes remaining. A minute and a half later he checked out of pit lane again to defend his number one spot. With the pace heating up in the final minutes, the Doctor responded by flashing red-helmet times in all sectors and clocking a 1’29.346s on his last lap to maintain the top position with a 0.359s margin, allowing him to successfully promote to Q2.

The Italian continued where he left off when he started the second qualifying session. He exited the pits as the last rider, hoping to find some clear track again for his qualifying efforts. His second flying lap of 1’29.260s was enough to put him in fifth position, 0.376s from provisional pole. He made a quick pit stop with eight minutes remaining, before continuing his strong qualifying challenge.

The nine-time World Champion was back out with five minutes left on the clock. He was on the attack once more, but he was unable to better his time on his next lap. He continued pushing and set a 1’29.203s, improving his time, but he dropped back to sixth place. Not able to make further strides on his last lap he was pushed back to seventh, with a 0.817s margin to first. He will start in tomorrow’s race from the third row of the grid.

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