Among Valentino Rossi’s stunning return from injury, Jorge Lorenzo’s surprising morning-to-afternoon turnaround, and Marc Marquez’s qualifying crash, it was almost easy to lose sight of Maverick Viñales second successive MotoGP pole position, with the 22-year old keen to transfer his Saturday speed across to race day.

Viñales claimed his fifth pole of the season with a late effort of 1m 47.635s, a lap that saw him place four and six places respectively ahead of title rivals Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso. “You can push from the beginning,” he said when asked of the benefits of this advantage. “It makes it easier to control the tyres.”

It was a fine turnaround for the Catalan, 16 points behind Marquez and Dovizioso in the title race, who was badly lacking rear traction in Friday’s mixed weather conditions. Viñales was just 17th in FP2 but, as witnessed at Misano, has re-found the speed in the dry that carried him to three wins in the first five races.

“It’s always important to be in the first row in the qualifying because it seems to be like half of the race you can push from the beginning, so it makes much more easier to ride good the race, to control the tyres,” he said.

“But anyway, the team did a great job. From this morning to this afternoon we improve a lot. Since we changed to the new setup I felt better on the bike every time, more confident so I can push even more.

“I’m really happy honestly about the pace. It’s so difficult to compare because many riders use used, new. Let’s see for tomorrow. I’m quite happy. I’m pleased that again on the pole, and the team is doing a good job.”

Viñales went on to explain his favouring of the soft rear tyre, the compound that carried him to a stirring finish and second place at the British Grand Prix. The 20 minutes of track time on offer during Sunday's morning warm-up will be crucial in making his final choice.

“Well, I always push for the soft rear tyre because in Silverstone seems to work really well, but here nobody knows. We’re going to try to work as hard as possible in the warm-up to understand the way to go in the race.

“In Silverstone was hot conditions too and it works quite well during all the race, so I don't know. It’s really important to try to understand in the morning, even if it’s a little more cold conditions.

“But is important to do a correct decision as we are trying to give the maximum all the time. We start to understand a little bit better the tires, so let’s see if tomorrow we can do the correct choice.”

The importance of tomorrow’s 14th race of the season wasn’t lost on Viñales either. A first MotoGP win at home would set him up perfectly ahead of the upcoming, intensive flyaway rounds.

“It's really important tomorrow to make a good start and try to pull away from the beginning,” he said. “I will try my best. It’s going to be important race for sure for the championship. We’re going to take the chance and trying to give our maximum.“


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