Maverick Viñales qualifies 7th at Brno, Aleix Espargaro 15th
The ups and downs of Brno’s circuit represented the bittersweet performance in today’s session for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders.
Qualifying for the Grand Prix Ceské republiky saw Maverick Viñales gain seventh-place on the grid with a 1’55.954-lap while Aleix Espargaro took 15th position following his 1’56.806 lap-time.
Viñales got a good start early in the morning, running consistent lap-times for almost the whole of FP3 and eventually making a further step forward that allowed him to get the direct access to Q2 with a lap of 1’56.271.
FP4 saw him a little disappointed while testing a different set-up that left him uncomfortable on his GSX-RR, but the confidence soon returned in qualifying and he ran consistently in the top-10, finally netting seventh position.
The 1’55.954 lap-time that gave him the third-row is only 0.4s slower than last year’s pole position and curiously there are four riders this year enclosed in the 1’55.9 bracket; all less than one-second from Pole Position.
Despite the final position in qualifying, the second day at Brno was positive for Espargaro overall: In the morning he made a positive step forward compared to yesterday’s feeling and also set a comfortable pace. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to get direct access to Q2 and his performance in Q1 finally set him in 15th place on the grid.
The positives of the day came from FP4 where he could test his performance in consistent pace, giving him positive feelings as he looks ahead to tomorrow’s race.
“Well I’m happy because I can see and feel that I am constantly improving my performances and this gives me a further injection of confidence. My team and I did a very good job – I want to thank my crew for this – and my GSX-RR gave me very good feelings today. We hardly tried the hard tyre, we covered more than the race distance and the performance drop on these tyres is well under control, so I feel very confident with the pace. Of course the race will be long, we still have some things to try in the warm-up just to be sure, but at this moment I feel positive. Starting from seventh place is a huge opportunity and I will need to be very fast at the start and be on the pace immediately. The start has been a weak point for me in the last few races so today we have worked on this. As a result I feel a little more competitive, but tomorrow in the race we will find out. I am enjoying this new approach because it makes me feel more comfortable, and if I feel more comfortable I can enjoy my job that much more.”
“Of course I’m disappointed for the 15th place, but overall I must say that this hasn’t been a bad day. This morning we improved the bike a lot and when I tested the race-pace I felt very confident and pretty fast. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a proper feeling with the soft tyre, the back pushes the front-end quite a bit, which results in a lot of chattering; and this is why I missed out on Q2. The race will be very long and the tyres’ performance drops off a lot. Of course I will need to recover some positions from the start, but according to our race-pace I think that we could get a top-10 finish.”