Viñales showed he’s feeling competitive in the dry during FP4, which he ended in first place. Following this ego-boost, he was eager in Q2 to get a hot lap in but soon realised the first tyre wasn’t working for him. He placed fourth on his opening lap but dropped to eighth place as other riders completed their initial flying laps.
After two tries the Spaniard hurried back to the box for a fresh tyre and with a little more than five minutes left on the clock headed out again, determined to show his speed. On his next attempt he moved up to fifth place, but as the pace quickened towards the end of the session he fell back to seventh. However, the youngster had one more trick up his sleeve and produced a 1’31.950s lap by riding three personal best sectors on S2, S3 and S4. This put him in third place, on the front row of the grid, 0.321s from first.
Rossi’s first run also didn’t go entirely to plan. He left the box looking for some clear space on track to put on a show for his fans, but they had to be patient as his first hot lap got cancelled. He appeared in fifth place on the timing screens after his second flying lap and he went straight back to the box.
The Italian returned to the fray with more than six minutes left, entering a half empty track as at that point many other riders were swapping tyres. He put his head down and climbed up to fourth on his next try, but soon was back in sixth. He kept pushing but was unable to improve on his 1’32.028s lap, 0.399s from pole, and finished in seventh place as his teammate made a late charge. The local hero will start tomorrow’s race from the third row of the grid, missing out on the second row by just 0.003s.