Maverick Vinales carried the confidence and momentum from his first MotoGP victory of the season at Misano last Sunday into the Catalunya weekend.

The Monster Yamaha rider was a close fourth fastest in both Friday sessions in Barcelona, as he appeared to confirm the strength of the revised race set-up discovered in Italy under very different grip conditions.

"The bike is working fantastic," declared Vinales. "We are on the point. I feel quite good on the bike. For tomorrow we need to make some small steps but nothing amazing.

"This afternoon I rode with the medium front that was not the best tyre for us. I didn't want to take the risk to push, but I'm quite happy because the rhythm was there. This was the most important.

"I’m working all the time on race set up, every practice. I need to understand. Also the riding style changed quite a lot. We are trying to improve and understand the bike. We just try to remain calm and go with the flow in the corners.

"Tomorrow we will focus on the soft-soft tyre combination to see if it works for us over the race distance. We'll also try to make another step, especially concerning the race set-up, but I feel strong.

"If I can push for the pole position, I will, but our main objective is to be on the front row, and then we'll see where we stand."

Vinales is currently tied with Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo for second in the world championship, just one point behind Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso.

Vinales' team-mate Valentino Rossi was tenth on the combined Friday timesheets, 0.713s from Petronas pace setter and future team-mate Franco Morbidelli.

"This track is quite a shock coming from Misano," said Rossi. "In Misano the grip was high and here in Barcelona it's a lot, lot less. But anyway, this is Barcelona. It's always like this. I like the track and at the end I'm just P10 but my feeling is better.

"My pace is quite good. For sure we need to work in different places. It's a bit difficult to control the bike. You have to ride in another way because the rear slides a lot. But I feel good with the bike and I'm not so bad.

"The windy conditions were difficult this afternoon, especially on the front straight, because when you exit from the last corner you don't have any protection from the wind. The straight is also very fast, and at the end of it the wind is quite inconsistent and it moves the bike a lot. That's quite scary.

"But it looks like it will be less windy tomorrow, so I think FP3 will be very crucial, as always, for staying in the top 10. I think everybody will be pushing at the maximum. After that I will try to do a good qualifying and try to start from the first two rows.

"Right now it's still open between the soft and the medium tyres, especially on the rear. We need to make some more laps before we make a decision. Usually at this track the grip level improves on the second day, so we will see tomorrow."

 

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