Just as it appeared Movistar Yamaha was navigating a path out of a storm, riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales endured a a trying first day of free practice at Jerez, with the Italian unable to find a way around excessive spinning on his Yamaha M1.

Rossi could muster no more than the ninth fastest time on Friday afternoon as he struggled to find a solution for a lack of grip. In the morning, he said, his issues were not so pronounced. But once track temperatures rose, the Italian encountered some of the familiar failings that plagued Yamaha’s 2017.

Addressing the balance of the bike on Friday evening is the main priority, according to Rossi, who seemed a good deal less perplexed than Viñales. FP2 was part of a “difficult day” but the nine-time champion didn’t see this as a situation as serious as the one encountered at this track a year ago.

“It was a difficult day, especially in the afternoon, because in the morning I felt good with the bike, with the tyres, and FP1 was not so bad," said Rossi. "But in the afternoon with more temperature we suffer more. I’m not very happy with the balanace of the bike. We have to modify the general balance, the general feeling.

“But especially we suffer with the tyres because in this track the new asphalt is better but you spin a lot. In this situation we suffer and after some lap we lose some grip and our pace is a bit more slow compared to our opponents. So I think it will be hard but it’s just Friday. We have a lot of work to do to improve tomorrow and we will see.”

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Movistar Yamaha’s struggles come months after the Jerez track was resurfaced with new asphalt. Many of the riders spoke of the increased levels of grip, making Rossi and Viñales’ words all the more perplexing. However, the Italian believes the Andalusian venue has always been “a ‘spin’ race track."

“I think they did a very good job with the asphalt,” said Rossi. “Not the perfect job because in turn one and turn eight there are some problems, and when you pass through with the bike it’s not a fantastic feeling. But the general asphalt is good. They improve especially the balance and also the grip.

“But Jerez is historically a ‘spin’ race track, and it’s in this condition we suffer a bit. But I enjoy it. It’s always great to ride in Jerez – I like a lot, and I enjoy more than last year but it looks like the top five, the top six is stronger than us.”

And his thoughts on the renaming of the circuit to Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, after his good friend, the 12 + 1 times world champion who passed last year, Rossi said, “Ah, it’s a great feeling.

“Yesterday I was with Pablo and Gillette [Nieto, sons of Angel] and they were so happy. So, you know, we miss Angel a lot. In my mind I think this is the real Spanish Grand Prix. It’s like Mugello for Italy. It’s a cathedral. I love Barcelona but the history is here. To put the name of Angel is perfect.”

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12th place Vinales, who needs to break into the combined top ten on Saturday morning to avoid a trip to Qualifying 1, said: "Honestly, today I didn't have the best feeling. I wasn't feeling well during FP1 and FP2, it was difficult. In Austin we improved quite a lot, but since coming here the problems started again.

"The bike is moving around a lot, so we have to keep working and stay focused and we have to push - that's the only way forward. Vale seems to be having the same problems, our lap times are quite similar. We have to find a solution that works for us."

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