An unlucky Maverick Viñales found three of his four flying laps cancelled in Saturday’s Portimao qualifying with the Yamaha rider ending the MotoGP session in 12th place.
Starting his Q2 bid with a solid 1‘39.807s lap, Viñales slotted into fourth place before improving by three-tenths on his next flyer. The lap was later cancelled due to a yellow flag infringement, leaving the Spaniard dropping back to seventh place at the session’s mid-point.
Knowing the pressure would be on for his second run, Viñales headed back out on a fresh set of tyres, with just over three minutes remaining, wrapping up the session with a 1‘38.990s and 1’38.732s. Both were enough to join his teammate Fabio Quartararo on the front row with the latter possibly worthy of pole, but unfortunately the laps were cancelled yet again - one due to a yellow flag and the other for exceeding track limits in sector two by the narrowest of margins.
Viñales and the Monster Yamaha team attempted to appeal the track limits cancellation, with images showing how close the call was but with newly installed sensors policing the green this season, the call was thrown out, with the number 12 left to start Sunday’s race from the fourth row.
“Honestly, when I stopped, I thought [the cancellation] was for yellow flags” Viñales explained after the session, “and when I go into the box they told me ‘no it’s because you touched the green’ and I say, ‘it’s impossible that I touch the green because I know when I touch the green’ anyway at the end, this is the rules. Is one opinion and you cannot say nothing, you cannot appeal. At the meeting we had in Qatar they told us they will review and they were going to check but in the end they don’t check.
“When I saw the image I see even more clear, my opinion, so you can do nothing” he continued. “This is the problem, you cannot appeal, the decision has been done,. Yamaha was pushing very hard because they have the same opinion than me, that this is not clear that I touch the green, If it was 100% clear then I would say ‘this is how it is’ but it is not clear. So us, as Yamaha, we cannot say nothing. This is just how it is. For sure is not fair because I was first and this way, I will be P12. This is the judgement of one person, and it is how it is. Finally, the feeling was really good and we improved a lot, and I made myself maybe P1 or P2 so you cannot say nothing more about today because it was a good day, actually. I don’t want to think any more about that, I just want to concentrate on tomorrow, we have a good opportunity and we need to push for sure, from the start until the end.
“I’m ready to go, in Qatar we did it, and I passed in the first lap, nine, so we’ll see what we can do but overall, the problem is that I was first and the race, now, is very different. We have the rhythm, we have everything, and with used tyre I was able to be in the low 40’s, which is a great lap-time. We will see tomorrow. We will push from the first lap until the end and then we will see what we can do.
“Honestly, we’ve been working very hard. We accomplished to be more smooth on the beginning which gave us a little bit more traction, definitely the track give us more traction. This weekend we work a lot on engine brake. At Qatar, we did 300 laps before the race so the engine brake was clear, but here we work really hard and the team ended with a good result.
“I’m quite happy and excited for tomorrow because I have a good rhythm, and also I am strong on the brakes, so we’ll see what we can do but overall I feel fantastic with the bike. Tomorrow we’re going to try to go another step to be even better but I feel ready to start tomorrow, to start the race and be able to be fast. I feel very strong, a few corners when I’m really fast, like through 9,10 11, which is good to overtake, so we’ll see. For sure will be not easy. This track is very tight, but we need to be strong and we need to go forward, never going back. Tomorrow, we need to deliver something special.”