VIÑALES SECOND AFTER BRILLIANT QUALIFIERS. AND HE HAS THE PACE TOO
AFTER A FRIGHTENING CRASH IN FP4, ESPARGARÓ GRITS HIS TEETH AND TAKES AN INCREDIBLE SPOT ON THE SECOND ROW
Maverick Viñales’ feeling on his Aprilia RS-GP continues to improve. Today this was confirmed in qualifying as well, with the Spanish rider finishing second by just 98 thousandths of a second. This is his best starting position yet in his adventure with the Italian manufacturer and, considering his incisive race pace, it places him in outstanding conditions for the race tomorrow.
Aleix Espargaró, a protagonist thus far in a solid and competitive weekend, fell victim to a frightening crash during the FP4 session. Thrown from the saddle during a direction change on turn 12-13, the Spaniard was taken to the Medical Centre in pain. Initial checks ruled out any fractures, but he did suffer an injury to his right foot which makes his participation in qualifying questionable. However, courageous captain that he is, Aleix found the strength to throw a leg over his Aprilia to ride it to a spot on the second row, just 28 thousandths behind his direct rival, Fabio Quartararo. In fact, he was even the first rider to shave enough off his time to break the track record.
Aleix’s condition will be assessed in the coming hours because if the pain increases, he may not be able to participate in the race tomorrow.
"The crash was the last thing we needed. I was feeling good on the bike, pushing hard, and the high side was rather violent. I’m in a lot of pain and it is getting worse, so along with the team and the docs, we decided it would be best for me to rest until tomorrow and then evaluate the situation after the warm up. I’ll obviously do everything I can to be on the track but, since we’re talking about a part of the body that is highly stressed during riding, we’ll have to see if it’s possible."
"I don’t think I have ever felt so comfortable on the Aprilia on the fast lap, but that is not by chance. We have done a lot of hard work and we’ll continue to do so, without letting up. I also felt good in terms of pace. There are a lot of fast and consistent riders, but we’ve got what it takes to be in the mix. We still don’t have a perfectly clear idea on tyre choice. There are a couple options that seem to work well. The strategy I have in mind is clear enough – push from the very first lap as if it were a qualifying session!"