Second & Fourth Row for Monster Energy Yamaha in Motegi Qualifying

Rain in this morning‘s FP3 session meant time and place improvements in the combined free practice rankings were not possible. Because of this, Viñales‘ and Rossi‘s FP2 results saw both of them through to the Q2 session.

Viñales was the last rider to leave pit lane for the 15-minute shoot-out in an effort to use the clear space on track to his advantage on his first hot lap. A tricky moment cost his some time, but he still posted a provisional fifth place. It wasn‘t long before the level was raised and the times dropped. The Spaniard responded by putting in another good lap, for sixth.

He returned to the pits with seven minutes still on the clock. After a two-minute stop, the number-12 rider headed back out, finding himself in ninth position and immediately produced two red sectors and two orange ones to set the second fastest lap so far, a 1’46.090s. There was still time for one last attempt, but the Spaniard couldn‘t make any further improvement. He ended the session in fourth place, 0.327s from first.

Rossi left the pit box feeling motivated after a P5 result on the drying track in FP4. However, he didn‘t have the same feeling in Q2. He set the sixth fastest lap on his first try but lost some ground as the rider field started to push. Though the Italian was giving it 100% and improved his time on the next two flying laps, he was in 11th place as he returned to pit lane.

After a quick swap of tyres, he was back on his way. He was flashing orange sectors on his next try but ended up in 12th position. It wasn’t until his very last lap that he posted a 1‘46.558s, 0.795s from first, which was exactly the same lap time as Aleix Espargaró in ninth place. However, as the Spaniard had set the time one lap earlier, Rossi will start the race from tenth position, on the fourth row.

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