Confusion is reigning in the Yamaha MotoGP camp this evening as the only M1 that put in an anywhere decent performance during qualifying was rookie Jonas Folger’s while Valentino Rossi ended ninth, Maverick Vinales 11th and Assen pole position man Johann Zarco didn’t even make it into Q2.
Folger finished on the second row and is just less than a second off the pace but Rossi and Vinales, who historically have pace in the wet, were all at sea, both separately complaining of no traction in the wet but having speed in the dry - which is what they will be praying for overnight.
“It looks like all the Yamahas except Folger are a bit slower than the Ducatis and the Hondas. In qualifying it was very difficult and we tried a lot of different things but we were never strong enough. We don’t know what is happening and why the difference. Zarco, with the 2016 bike, was last week on pole position and after one week in the same conditions he is in 19th place,” said Rossi, speaking at the track.
“I was strong in Assen in the wet and here I struggle more. It is very difficult to understand. Also compared to last year the feeling with the bike is totally different. Last year here in the wet I was one of the fastest. So I don’t know. I don’t know Maverick’s problem, but in acceleration we lose. We have less traction and spin more on the exit of the corner.”
Both the factory men have been using the updated chassis which saw Vinales finish second in the dry FP3 with only one flying lap on a soft tyre. Things could get difficult if a bike change is required tomorrow as they both have one original 2017 frame and one updated each…
Team boss Maio Meregalli has acknowledged the problem and said work is in progress to find a solution.
“We already noticed in FP4 that the feeling in the wet was not as good as it was in the dry. Valentino started the qualifying session well, but was unable to really get the feeling he was looking for in the wet conditions. When the track started to dry towards the end, he made the right call to change tyres and climbed to ninth place,” he said.
“It was unfortunate there wasn’t enough time for him to have another go, because his potential is higher than his grid position. The same goes for Maverick. The pace he showed in FP3 this morning clearly indicates he is one of the fastest men on track in dry conditions. We will work overnight to try to find a solution to give both of the riders a better feeling in the wet.”