ASSEN, Netherlands: World championship leader Maverick Vinales rebounded from his struggles in Barcelona with the fastest time across the first two practice sessions on Friday (Saturday in Manila) ahead of the Dutch MotoGP.
The Yamaha star finished a disappointing 10th at the Catalan GP a fortnight ago but comfortably outpaced German rookie Jonas Folger and defending champion Marc Marquez at Assen on a day that featured heavy rain.
“I feel good, this is a track I like. The bike is working good and already from this morning we had a good set-up for this afternoon,” said Vinales, who has won three of the seven races this season.
“We gained a lot of good information for qualifying. We are trying and discussing the chassis, but as I always say: when we have grip, the bike is really nice to ride. Today it was easy to ride and control, and it was nice to feel good again.”
The Spaniard posted a best lap of 1min 33.130sec, with Folger 0.367sec behind, as most of the leading names made the top 10 with the exception of Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo, 14th at 1.393sec.
The 22-year-old Vinales, twice a winner at Assen in the support classes, tops the standings with 111 points, but four riders are within striking distance of the leader.
Andrea Dovizioso, who has closed to within seven points of Vinales after back-to-back wins in Italy and Spain, was fourth quickest with veteran Italian Valentino Rossi sixth on the second Yamaha.
Nine-time world champion Rossi briefly led this year’s championship after three successive podium finishes in Qatar, Argentina and the United States.
But the veteran Italian has slipped worryingly off the pace and is now fifth in the standings, 28 points behind Vinales.
Rossi has seven wins in MotoGP at the Assen track which has staged a world championship round every year since 1949.
“This day was tough, as always in Assen, but in the end it was quite positive for me because I was in the top five this morning and in sixth position this afternoon,” said Rossi.
“It was very important to stay in the top 10 for Q2 on Saturday because it looks like the weather will be worse then.”