It was a busy first day at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo for Rossi. For the nine-time World Champion, the goal in the morning session was to find a solid base setting, one he could develop further throughout the weekend. Whilst working his way through various setting options, he set a time of 1'32.538s to finish in 18th position, 1.493s behind the leader.
In the afternoon, the Doctor wasted no time to pick up where he left off in the morning. He was eager to get out on track and briefly led the way, before continuing to fine-tune his bike's setting. As the times dropped towards the end of the session, he responded by bettering his fastest lap to 1'31.488s for ninth, but just missed out on a place inside the top-10 overall. He finished the day in 11th place in the combined results, 0.848s from first.
Though the Spanish sunshine gave a false impression of a late summer day, Viñales headed out in FP1 in chilly conditions, curious to find out what the grip level would be like while the track temperature only measured 12ºC. He made a cautious start, but gradually found confidence, all the while improving his time. Ultimately, he dropped under the 1'32s mark on his third run, clocking a 1'31.750s best lap, for sixth place, 0.705s from the front.
The afternoon saw more of the same from the local hero. As the temperature went up, he again spent most of the session working on the balance of his YZR-M1, whilst trying a couple of set-up changes during the second 45-minute session. Following his usual routine, he saved the best for his last outing. He was able to improve to a 1'31.624s lap for 11th place, 0.984s from the top of the FP2 ranking, and completed the day in 12th position in the combined times.
Johann Zarco kicked off his quest to complete the season finale on the rostrum with a strong showing on the first day of action. The French star improved in both sessions before concluding the afternoon practice in 5th with his best time leaving him only 0.105 back from the top three, and as the leading Yamaha rider. Tomorrow he intends to progress further by sealing a front row start in qualifying.
Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark, who is stepping in for the recovering Jonas Folger, used the initial practice sessions to get to grips with the meandering Valencia circuit. The WorldSBK front-runner made leaps forward and wrapped up the day with a time that was almost one and a half seconds quicker than his personal best in the morning. Tomorrow, the action commences at 09:55 with FP3.
Position: 11th - Time: 1'31.488 - Laps: 45
"It was a difficult day, especially this morning, because I didn't feel good with the bike, but in the afternoon we improved the feeling and the setting. In the end, though I wasn't fantastic, I was also not so bad, my speed was quite good. Here in Valencia it's always difficult, because the grip is very low. During the whole season we suffered a lot in these types of conditions, so we have a lot to work on."
Position: 12th - Time: 1'31.624 - Laps: 45
"It was a challenging day. We were struggling on the brakes, and trying to make the bike turn in the corners was difficult. It's hard to understand what the situation is, I just try to ride the bike in the best way I can. This was the result and we will try to improve. I think we have the level to reach the top-5. Let's see tomorrow, so far it seems to be quite a difficult weekend."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"The first day didn't quite go to plan. Even though we tried different set-ups on both sides of the garage, we haven't been able to improve as much as we wanted to. However, we were still able to compare different tyre specifications and got some good information for when we make the tyre choice for the race. It's really important for tomorrow's session that we find what didn't work today, so we can improve."
Position: 5th - Time: 1'31.054 - Laps: 43
"I am happy with what we achieved today and I started well, with a good pace. We did some constructive work with the medium tyres, which enabled us to save the soft compound until later. When we used it, I improved my time, but, to be honest, I expected a bit more. However, I am inside the top ten which is the most important thing. I will keep pushing and the information that we collected this afternoon will be useful for qualifying. I am pleased that we had dry and clear weather today and it should be the same for the entire weekend. Anyway, I am enjoying my time here and I hope to stay with the top guys tomorrow in order to prepare for a positive Sunday."
Michael van der Mark
Position: 25th - Time: 1'33.101 - Laps: 48
"Overall, it was a good first day despite the fact that I had to get used to the bike again, and I haven't raced here for a long time. In the first session I struggled with the feeling a bit, but towards the end, I managed to improve gradually even if the gap to the front was quite big. In FP2 this afternoon, I felt stronger and more comfortable on the bike, then, in the final part of the practice, we put some new tyres on and I made a good step forward. However, it wasn't as big as I wanted, but we can see that we are making real progress. I am enjoying every single lap, and hopefully tomorrow we can adjust the bike a little bit more to my style."