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Title: Maverick Vinales a strong title contender and on form with Yamaha whilst Valentino Rossi not happy at Phillip Island

Author: Myanna Wedes

Maverick Vinales has made his mark in MotoGP already and 2017 is shaping up to be a season where he does this once again. Lin Jarvis has made his intentions clear and that their aim is for a world title with Vinales and Rossi on top. The testing livery that has been designed around Maverick is working beautifully already as his speed and talent are on display for everyone to see. The paddock is surprised time and time again with the diversity of the young Spaniard.

The Ducati MotoGP bikes are more aggressive to ride whereas it appears the transition for Maverick from Suzuki to Yamaha is much closer. Lorenzo has had to transition to a new bike and learn to ride it as opposed to just jumping on board feeling comfortable from day one. On day two Maverick Vinales put in a fast time of a 1:28.847 and Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow followed him. It appears the Yamaha rider is feeling quite comfortable and confident around the Australian circuit. Maverick was the only rider to get in to the 1:28’s on that particular day.

Maverick Vinales comments to the media: “About today, I think I can be happy in one area. On the race pace and basic set-up we made a good step, I feel comfortable.”

“We still have time until Qatar to be fast and try to improve the bike and I think our objective here is to be consistent and really fast.”

On day two, Maverick focused on his race pace and making sure to tick off the items that were on the testing schedule courtesy of his team. He is going faster as he feels more at home with the new manufacturer and is completely focused on what he has been employed to do and that is to win. His teammate Valentino Rossi is continuing to watch Vinales closely as they compare from one side of the garage to the other. There is a good chance that Vinales will go even faster as his riding style marries up with the bike. The more track time the better for the young rider who has a veteran champion right next to him.

Maverick Vinales comments to the media: “Today we focused a lot on the race pace and honestly we did a great job, we made a big step compared to yesterday.”

“We need to choose which chassis we like and decide on a few other things. We still have a lot of laps ahead of us.”

“I‘ve been fast with both chassis and all the time I‘m riding 1‘29-low and 1‘29-medium. Like I said, we‘ve made a big step today and we‘ll try to make another step tomorrow.”

Consistency is the key that these riders need to achieve in the hopes of chasing down a title. Lorenzo for example wants to be in the 1’29’s and 1’28’s as much as possible. The same feeling and goal applies to Maverick. The team on day two tested a new front fork with both riders and two new tyres from Michelin. The feeling for Maverick was much better than Rossi and of course the hard work of riding around Phillip Island is taking its toll on the riders. The heat and hot track temperatures has certainly tested Rossi and his lack of speed a little concerning for the Italian rider. He wanted to achieve more on day two and had to utilise his track time on the final day to finish with an optimistic mindset.

On the last day of testing Maverick put a dent in to the time sheets with a 1:28.549. Jorge Lorenzo commented on Maverick’s times: “He is very fast”. It is fair to say that most of the paddock did not see Vinales sky rocketing to the top so quickly. Movistar Yamaha has been able to test practically everything on their Phillip Island testing program. This is impressive Vinales is just upping his game!

Q: Do you feel like a star in the team having looked at Rossi’s performance today?

Maverick Vinales: No because having the great Valentino Rossi on the side even if he has a bad day, tomorrow he is there. It is impossible to feel like a star in this team because you cannot compare with Valentino.

Q: Did you already choose your frame or have you decided between the two?

Maverick Vinales: No we have not yet. We do not want to discuss. The old chassis in some areas is really good so we have to work also to see if we can add this.

Q: Can you please explain the gap between Valentino and you and also the comments because Valentino said that he did not improve the wear of the rear tyre and you were very fast in your race simulation?

Maverick Vinales: I do not know. I always feel amazing here at Phillip Island and feel good. I have a lot of confidence in the front so I do the lap times by making speed in the corners and with this bike it is great for that. Honestly, I did not look to the other side, I just tried to be focused on my side doing the best I can and bringing the best feelings to the Yamaha.

Q: How did it feel out there today with the wind and the way the bike was moving around?

Maverick Vinales: On the first day it was very difficult as there was a lot of wind. It was difficult to ride fast. The second day was a bit better on the track because it was different. Sector two, three and four you could be quite fast and today on the last day in the morning it was good which is why I put on the new tyre and went really fast. This is when I said ok I need to try but the wind for me was ok. I have never really had a problem with the wind.

Q: So the lap time you put in today does that make you feel confident going to the first round at Qatar?

Maverick Vinales: Yes for sure. I always feel confidence even in Malaysia I was feeling confident. The speed is there. We need to still work on some areas to be at 100% for the first race but I feel great on the team and this is a good thing.

Q: Maverick what can you say about where Marc was on track when you were doing the race simulation?

Maverick Vinales: I do not know what to say. You are doing your race simulation and then someone follows you. After five laps he was behind and I had to abort the race simulation. The track is over 4.45km and it was strange that he started where I was.

Q: Do you think Marc is trying to get in to your head?

Maverick Vinales: Sure not because then I put on new tyres and I say now I push. I push 100% and was in a good rhythm just the same as him. It is nice to have this motivation and fighting. It really is so nice. I was thinking that he will make a time attack at the end but anyway he is fast too. He has the speed. It is nice to have this because you always need to improve and be fast.

Q: Will the Championship be this way now?

Maverick Vinales: I hope. Marc is very strong and his braking points are quite amazing. Marc is very good there. In that area we have to improve.

Q: Maverick if the Championship started tomorrow, are you ready to fight for it?  

Maverick Vinales: I think today with all the conditions, then yes. 101 laps is quite a lot. I think the bike is quite there but we still need to improve a little bit the electronics and braking points. I have to improve to. I need to better for the bike and more smooth. Sometimes I am too aggressive and I move the bike so that I cannot be as fast as I could be if I had 100% smooth and going on the line.

Q: Do you know why you did so well during the three days of testing and why Valentino Rossi struggled so much? 

Maverick Vinales: No. I did not focus on his side of the box so much. I was focusing on us and to make the best and bring the bike to 100% on the limit and trying to do a good set up.

Unfortunately, Rossi was not happy with the test overall and wants more from his team and also himself as a rider. He left Phillip Island with various questions and on a hunt to how to find more time to go faster. 

Q: What happened out there today, you suffered quite a lot?

Valentino Rossi: I suffered quite a lot out there today with the tyres and especially with the front tyre. For sure with these conditions, it was completely different to the Grand Prix. We tried to work a lot for the pace for the second half of the test. We tried something quite different but at the end we did not improve a lot. We are going to have to try something else.

Q: You are worried about this because you were very happy in Sepang?

Valentino Rossi: Yes, you know I think the bike has is good especially with the engine but for the rest for sure this test was more difficult for me. We need to try and attack.

Q: What is Maverick doing to be faster? 

Valentino Rossi: He is always very fast from the first time he tried the bike and he likes a lot Phillip Island and rides very well here. He is always fast.

Q: What would you like to do now before the first race?

Valentino Rossi: We have something else to try. For me the potential with the new tyres is not so bad. The second spec, the new one is better.

Q: What did you make of the three days of testing?

Valentino Rossi: We worked a lot and I also did to try and improve the feeling with the bike and especially with old tyres. We take a lot of data and make a harder job but at the end we did not fix our problems so we have to try something else for Qatar.

It appears that Valentino Rossi is going to reset for Qatar whilst Maverick Vinales stays excited about his chances and improving further. The choice of frame is yet to be decided and this will be announced closer towards the season commencing. Overall, the rivalries between Rossi, Vinales, Marquez and Lorenzo are starting to commence and it is sure going to make the season fun to watch.

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.