02.04.2021 | news
Eventful start to DohaGP for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi start second event at Losail seventh and 14th respectively
The opening day of the Grand Prix of Doha proved to be a challenging one for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli, who posted the seventh fastest time of the Free Practice sessions at Losail. Meanwhile, team-mate Valentino Rossi ended the day 14th.
Morbidelli experienced an eventful FP1 session, with his runs hampered by technical issues. Despite this the Italian still managed to top the times for a period and ended the session fifth with a 1min 55.125secs lap time. Franco was the first rider to take to the Losail track for FP2, immediately posting the third fastest time. With riders separated by only the finest of margins, Morbidelli’s 1min 53.699secs lap placed him seventh in the session and in the overall standings.
Team-mate Rossi had a steadier start to the Grand Prix of Doha, posting times within the top-ten for the opening half of FP1. At the end of the 45 minutes, his best time of 1min 55.925secs placed him 17th. The Italian’s first runs in the second session of the day saw him briefly hold station inside the top-five. Unfortunately his final lap of FP2 – 1min 42.112secs – saw him round out the opening day in 14th, just 0.240secs shy of being within the top-ten.
Morbidelli and Rossi will take to the track tomorrow for FP3 at 3.15pm local time (8.15pm MYT), before the MotoGP qualifying sessions get underway at 8pm local time (1am MYT).
It was an interesting start to the day. I had the same problem on both of my bikes in FP1, which wasn’t a big issue luckily. We did decide to change one engine as a precaution for the night, but none of the engines have been withdrawn and we will keep using it; we have solved the issue. I had a good feeling in FP2; it felt more balanced between day and night, which was positive. There are still things to improve and the feeling is not perfect, especially in the night, but we are on the right path. We have changed a lot of things on the bike today, to improve upon what we had in the race last Sunday, and it felt a lot better. I feel like we're in the game and that we can now work to increase the potential even more.
Last week was better because I was faster, especially in FP2 when I was able to stay in P9 with a better lap time. Today I suffered a lot with the rear grip and, in the longer run at the beginning of the session, I felt a lot slower. We have improved the life of the tyre a little bit and this is very important for us. I improved the time attack in the final minutes and I feel like I rode quite well, but it was not enough for the top-ten. Tomorrow we need to try to improve the rear grip, but in FP3 it will be very difficult to improve the lap times so we need to concentrate on the pace and try to stay within the top-two in Q1. We will see what happens.