Maverick Viñales qualifies an excellent 8th in Sepang, Alex Espargaro 11th
It was a case of another step forward by Team SUZUKI ECSTAR in Malaysia and the second day of practice at Sepang that gave positive results to both Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro in eighth and 11th.
Most importantly, both of them made huge improvements from their early sessions at a track that was supposed to be very hard for the GSX-RR’s configuration and the race pace they showed today gives the two crews hope for tomorrow’s race.
After the lack of feeling he suffered yesterday, Viñales found effective solutions on his MotoGP machine and was more competitive in FP3. This was not enough to get direct access to Q2, but at the end of the day the Q1 session proved to be very useful for him to finalise an even better set-up and led him to the first qualifying session to go in the fight for the top 12. This also allowed him to be more competitive in qualifying and his best lap of 2’00.478 gave him the eighth place on tomorrow’s grid.
Positive improvements were also made for Espargaro as well, who was immediately fast in FP3 and developed a solid and fast pace in FP4. His first attempt with the fast time attack lap in Q2 granted him a 2’00.724s lap that sets him in the 11th place on the grid, while unfortunately his second attempt with a softer tyre led to a crash, therefore preventing him improving his position.
“Finally today was better that yesterday, we have worked hard to find some solutions to fix the problems I had yesterday with the grip, we are not yet performing at our 100% but we could improve and this is important. For some reason I could not get the direct access to Q2, but strangely this turned to my advantage because during Q1 we could try some improvements in the machine’s configuration and we found positive solutions. Maybe I’m not totally satisfied for the FP4 where we tried our race pace, but we already have some ideas about what to do and we still have the warm up to improve further. This will not be easy, the heat is killing all of us, therefore I will try to do my best for a good race. Probably the best strategy will be the same I had in Australia; try to take advantage of the position in grid and be as fastest as possible in the very early laps, in order to keep in touch with the leading group. We still need to work more, but I feel we have some directions and I’m confident we can improve.”
“I am disappointed with qualifying. Unfortunately I made a mistake and hit a bump entering in a corner and this made me crash. It’s a pity because my feeling today has improved a lot, the Team did a good job and both in FP3 and FP4 I could improve my lap times. My pace is good and I think that if it wasn’t for this crash I could have fought for the second or third row on the grid. However let’s think about the race, today as well I‘m happy to see that we are not suffering as we expected, my race pace is faster and more consistent than what the grid position says, I’ll try to have a good start and to recover positions immediately.”
Source: Suzuki Racing