Maverick Viñales has voiced his exasperation at Yamaha’s continued traction woes in the rain after the 22-year old found himself some way off the fastest pace of the day at Motegi.

With the rain that fell on Friday expected to stay throughout the weekend, Viñales could soon see his title hopes extinguished come Sunday afternoon, especially considering the speed of rivals Andrea Dovizioso (fastest in FP2) and Marc Marquez (second fastest).

By contrast, Viñales was eleventh, and a whopping 1.4s slower than Dovizioso’s quickest time of the day. And while he was relatively upbeat in his dealings with the media, he cast doubts on Yamaha’s ability to remedy the issues with the M1 before race day.

As he explained at Aragon, the 2017 M1 works well on corner entry but finding grip on the exit remains the machine’s Achilles Heel. Reducing the deficit to the fastest riders in the rain before Sunday will be “really difficult,” he admitted.

“You can copy the same comments from Aragon,” he began. “It’s the same feeling. Finally, we’ve been struggling all the time with rear grip. We change a lot the bike during all the practices but finally the same problem remains. It’s been very difficult for us during all of this year trying to be fast and competitive.

“It’s true that we didn’t use the soft tyre but our opponents didn’t use it. Only Johann [Zarco] used it. The gap is too big and to reduce it in only one weekend is going to be really difficult.

“For me the front is fantastic on our bike. The problem is the rear. We’re struggling with the grip and for this bike, it seems that without grip, it’s very difficult to ride.

“It’s difficult to understand. All year in the rear we’ve had the same problem –the traction area didn’t work. It’s always sliding. That is the problem because on the front I feel really good on the bike, a good feeling.

“Even on the tracks where the grip was not so good, I felt good on the front. It’s weird. It’s the main problem, also in the dry sometimes. In Aragon the rear was also a big problem for us.”

Asked whether he believed the situation could be improved ahead of Sunday, he continued, “During all the year we didn’t find [a solution]. So it’s very difficult to find it for the next day. We’re going to try it because we never give up. We’re going to try to do our best. In Misano I was quite close, not so far, but today I was far, honestly, from the top. I was giving my best. Let’s see tomorrow.

“I’m trying everything on the riding style. With other styles the problem is the same one; it’s the rear grip. We are trying mechanically and with the electronics. We’re going to try for sure because, as I said, we don’t want to give up, but it’s very difficult to improve from one day to another day.”


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