Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales will start the first race of the season in the best way possible: from pole position. Despite the windy and relatively cold conditions at the Losail International Circuit, Valentino Rossi put in a solid performance, but he wasn‘t able to secure a place in Q2. He will start the VisitQatar Grand Prix from P14.
Viñales waited at the start of the Q2 session, to be ensured of some clear space on track for his hot laps. The strategy worked out perfectly for him. He positioned his YZR-M1 firmly in the lead after his first try, with a 0.741s advantage over his closest rival. He showed it wasn‘t a lucky shot when he posted another, slightly higher, 1‘53s, though his benchmark time remained unthreatened in the first half of the session.
He timed his ultra-quick pit stop to perfection to re-enter the track on his own again with five-and-a-half minutes left on the clock. The pace was heating up, with multiple rivals flashing red sectors, but the Spaniard responded. He found another 0.298s, posting a 1‘53.546s. This stunning lap earned him the first pole position of 2019, with a 0.198s gap to the rider in second place.
Rossi wasn‘t able to improve on his FP1 time during the FP3 session, due to the windy and relatively colder conditions at the Losail International Circuit, which meant he had to take part in Q1. The veteran was quick to head out for the 15-minute shoot-out but had to sit up on his first hot lap due to traffic on track. Once he found a clear space, he resumed his mission and moved up from 11th to 7th place.
With more than six minutes to go, the Italian headed into pit lane to get a fresh set of tyres for his second run. He briefly secured fifth place before being pushed back to sixth. He had one more try, and he made it count. He improved his time by 0.290s to a 1’54.537s, to take fourth place, 0.267s from the fastest time of the Q1 session. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 14th position on the grid.