Vinales and Rossi show their pace in Sepang

by Ryan Lilly

After an encouraging last couple of rounds for the Monster Energy Yamaha team, both Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi have shown that they are once again looking competitive at the Sepang International Circuit.

With both riders inside the top 5 at the end of the opening day in Sepang, it looks set to be another strong weekend for the Iwata based Yamaha team, after being outshone by the Petronas SRT team in recent rounds.

Maverick Vinales led his teammate on the timesheets and looks to be the rider with the best pace on race tyres.

“I’m really happy because I felt pretty good with the bike immediately,” said the Dutch Grand Prix winner.

“We really found a good rhythm. Especially in Free Practice 2 I tried to understand how things are for the race: the pace, the track, the slippery conditions. I felt good, this is the most important thing and tomorrow we have a good chance of achieving our goal and being on the front row. I feel very strong, we can do a good job.

Vinales ended the opening day in fourth position but looks the strongest on race tyres
(Credit: Monster Energy Yamaha)

Teammate Valentino Rossi also enjoyed a ‘competitive’ Friday, featuring inside the top five on the combined times, and setting his best time in the afternoon heat.

Rossi has been working on adapting his riding style, something ‘The Doctor’ has been good at in the past.

The aim is to stress the rear tyre less in race conditions, to avoid the infamous drop off at the end of the race.

“The first day wasn’t so bad,” said Rossi.

“Free Practice 2 I had a good pace with the race tyres. Also at the end, I was able to do a good lap with the softs and I’m in the top five.”

Despite the strong start, Rossi’s not letting a strong Friday give false hope as he’s been competitive on Friday at other tracks.

The 40-year-old is still worried about the 20 lap race on Sunday, ” we’re worried about the rear tyre, the race is very long, 20 laps. Anyway, today we had two good practices and I am competitive.”

Valentino Rossi enjoyed a front-row start at last years Malaysian Grand Prix and led the majority of the race before a late crash at turn one ended the hopes of millions, for that first win since Assen 2017.

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