After displaying a fierce pace in FP4, Rossi was quick to start the 15-minute qualifying shoot-out. He found himself some clear track space on his first hot lap and slotted into fifth place. Now in a rhythm, he dropped under the 1’55 mark on his second try of 1’54.850s, but it didn’t help him improve his placement as he dropped to ninth position.
He came in for a fresh set of tyres with a little more than six and a half minutes left on the clock and had another go at a time attack only two minutes later. Eager to move up the ranking order, the Doctor knew he had to squeeze in a final hot lap before time ran out. He clocked a 1’54.389s, that put him in eighth place, 0.709s from pole. Rossi will start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the third row.
Viñales was on a charge in Q1. The Spaniard was unable to improve his time in FP3 due to windy conditions, as blowing sand compromised the grip level of the track. The circumstances meant that he had to take part in Q1, where he had his revenge. The Spaniard was the first rider on the track and he needed little time to put his stamp on the proceedings. His first stint saw him take provisional pole with a benchmark of 1’54.710s. He further improved his time with a 1’54.637s lap in the final stages, and comfortably promoted to Q2, holding second place.
In Q2 he was sticking to the same strategy. Once again Viñales headed out as soon as the lights in pit lane turned green, but his first fast lap was compromised due to traffic on track and put him in ninth place. His next lap, a 1’54.745s, saw the number-25 rider move to eighth, before coming back into the pits with slightly less than seven minutes on the clock.
A short time later he was back out to make his mark. He put his head down once more, but wasn’t able to improve on his time until the very last lap. He posted a 1’54.707s after the chequered flag had come out. However, it wasn’t enough for him to move up the order. He finished in 12th place, 1.027s from the front, leaving him on the fourth row of the grid.
Tomorrow the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates will be back on track from 14:40 – 15:00 local track time (GMT+3) for the Warm Up session, followed by the race under the floodlights, that starts at 19:00.