15 July 2016
Vinales: We’re making great steps
Not even a fall at the infamous turn eleven can slow Maverick Viñales; Spaniard ends day one in Germany 0.2s ahead of the field.
Maverick Viñales demonstrated the requisite bravery on the first day of free practice at the Sachsenring, as he quickly brushed off a fast fall at turn level to top MotoGP FP2.
With the agility of Suzuki's GSX-RR coming to the fore around the various tight, slow bends that make up the 2.2-mile circuit, Viñales led Andrea Iannone at the close of the day by 0.2s.
Comparing his and team-mate Aleix Espargaro's performances on Friday to the 2015 race at the same track, when they finished eleventh and tenth, Viñales believes the latest chassis that he has adopted since the Barcelona test in June has been a continuation of Suzuki's progress.
“Last year was difficult,” said the Catalan, who sits fifth in the championship standings.
“We were I think tenth and eleventh with a lot of gap to the front. Also without the seamless it was so difficult in the uphill and the bike was slow. I think we can do a good job. We are making great steps in the dry conditions and every time we are more toward the front.
“After Montmeló we are using one new chassis, a newer version. It's working and gives a little bit more grip. It also turns a little bit better.
“Also, on this track, compared to last year, that was something that we needed. At the moment it's working good. Anyway, tomorrow the lap time is going to be down a lot so we need to be at the front.
“I think the chassis is going to help because it has a little bit more grip. We don't need to use so much gas and I don't need to use so much the tyres. The important thing is to qualify well and to try and be in the first position in the first laps of the race. Then you can manage better the bike.”
Fast throughout the majority of the afternoon, Viñales was one of five riders to crash as he began tipping into the terrifying, blind downhill turn eleven on the first day. Like the culprits, he felt Friday's cold temperatures were to blame.
"When I go there I think not to do it really fast and to take it with calm,” he explained. “Maybe today with the weather, because it was so cold, it was so critical there. [With Michelin's asymmetric front tyre] For example corner one and three was really good. Then in eleven we didn't have any feeling.”
Still, the incident did little to faze the 21-year old. Minutes after returning to pit lane unharmed, Viñales was seen muscling the Suzuki through the same turn on his way to three consecutive fastest laps.
“Honestly it was moving a lot but I kept the full gas. For tomorrow we need to work a little bit to make a more stable bike. I think we know the way because in some tracks we also have these movements [but] I was feeling good in the corners.”
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