Maverick Viñales admitted to feeling mild surprise at his speed on Friday at Misano, a day that saw Yamaha show competitively on a hot, slick track, conditions that have been his M1’s Achilles Heel in 2019.

The 24-year old ended FP2 with the fastest time, his 1m 32.775s enough to place him ahead of second placed Fabio Quartararo by 0.057s. “We are very competitive,” stated Viñales, who was rarely outside the top three all day.

That this performance came when Viñales was riding with track temperatures exceeding 40 degrees on a surface that lacked any kind of grip told the Catalan two things: Yamaha has improved its turning in slow corners; and that the six-time MotoGP race winner has understood “how to ride the bike when it’s slippery.”

“I am very close to the lap times I was doing at the test. I was able to make those lap times with this bike. Anyway I think the surprise is that we can be very competitive in hot conditions.

“We are working very hard, all the Yamaha staff, especially [Takahiro] Sumi [Yamaha’s MotoGP Group Leader] who provides us with the best. Step by step we are getting closer and for sure we have the handicap of the top speed; we cannot take it away but we can improve in other areas.

“It’s very slippery,” he said of the surface. “Last year the grip on the track was much better. I think we made a good improvement in the slow corners during the test. In the slow corners we are quite competitive now.

“We know in the fast corners the Yamaha is always very good. But in the slow corners we made an improvement. For sure in the corner speed and better turning.”

Asked to explain his speed in such conditions when at Brno – just one month ago – he lamented the M1’s performance as soon as grip levels went down, Viñales pointed to the work done at the recent two-day test at this track.

“Honestly I think during the test we did a good job. I was all the time [using] hard tyres trying to understand how to ride the bike when it’s slippery. I think I make myself a little bit better in slippery conditions.

“I think that’s the explanation because finally the bike is the same. I tried to improve on the bike. It’s always very important trying to improve on the bike.”

On a day when team-mate Valentino Rossi sampled a variety of new items, including a new double exhaust, a carbon swingarm and a front brake cover, Viñales failed to try the latter.

What’s more he appeared more content on his bike from Silverstone, which features none of those new items. Indeed the Assen race winner set his fastest time using Yamaha’s aluminium swingarm and old exhaust.

“Well actually I think we need to do more laps to understand better what it does to the bike,” he said. “Somehow I had a good feeling with the standard bike and I don’t want to change that feeling. We are very competitive. Already from the first lap.

“I don’t want to change that feeling because we are very competitive. From the first lap I could see myself among the first three places. We need to keep working but it seems here that with these hot conditions the bike was working quite well. That’s very positive for us.”

Does that mean he won’t use the carbon swingarm again this weekend? “If it’s necessary I will try. If we see that Valentino is fast and constant with good rhythm we will try.

“But at the moment I have good rhythm with the standard bike. It doesn’t mean it’s better or not because finally it has positive and negative points. But the feeling is the most important thing, I think.”

 

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