Maverick Vinales brushed off an early spill during opening practice for the Czech Republic MotoGP to finish the session with the fifth fastest lap time (+0.212s).

The Monster Yamaha rider fell on entry to the final chicane, pushing his M1 back to the nearby pits before emerging on his spare bike and setting his best lap of the session on only his second lap.

Unlike three of the four riders that eventually finished ahead of him, Vinales did not fit a new tyre for a late time attack, instead staying on the same soft front and medium rear throughout. KTM's Pol Espargaro was the other rider in the top five to set his best early on in the session.

"The feeling with the bike is so good. It's true that I made a little mistake and I crashed. Maybe I was pushing too hard early on in the practice session," said Vinales, who made a precautionary visit to the Clinica Mobile after the session, where it was confirmed that he had escaped any injury.

"But I felt good with the bike straight away and we need to keep that momentum going. The second lap I did on the second bike was already an amazing lap. I already feel so good and on point. I tried to keep the rhythm and it was pretty good.

"I'm quite excited because it seems that we started much better here than we did last year, and even last year we were quite strong, especially in FP3.

"We need to keep working. I mean, I'm really happy, but I‘m curious to see what we can do in FP2 in the hotter conditions and how the bike is working then."

Fabio Quartararo, currently ten points ahead of Vinales in the championship standings, began the weekend in 13th place (+0.478s) for Petronas Yamaha, having also stuck with the same set of soft front-medium rear tyres.

Vinales' team-mate Valentino Rossi was eighth quickest but just 0.293s from fastest man Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda). The Italian, looking to build on a podium return last time at Jerez, set his best time after fitting new hard tyres at the end of the session.

"These were difficult conditions, because the track doesn‘t have great grip yet in FP1, but we‘re working hard," Rossi said. "We have to find the right balance of the bike, and also the tyre choice will be very important because that decision is still wide open."

Rossi was thought to have a different set-up to try on each of his M1s this morning, having diverged from the 'balance' of the other Yamahas before claiming the Jerez podium.

 

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