Maverick Viñales is the “winner of the MotoGP winner test”. The 22 year old Spaniard and new comer in the Yamaha Factory team after 2 years in Suzuki dominated the winter test on four different circuits (Valencia, Sepang, Phillip Island also Qatar).
He was the fastest and showed a strong race pace and finished the Qatar final pre-season test once again on top of the time sheet.
“We made another step with the bike and I feel comfortable, even on the race pace we are quite happy” said Viñales on Sunday, “I feel that we can still better the electronics and gain a couple of tenths, so we have a margin to improve. For sure we are not on the bike‘s limit, so we can still push a little bit more. If we do the same in the first GP as we did in the test, we can fight for the victory. We have a really good package and I feel good on the bike. I have a great fitness now, so I feel comfortable.”
He impressed the Yamaha squad since the first time he jumped on the M1 in Valencia in November for his quick and natural adaptation to the new bike. What was a surprise in Spain, became a confirmation in Malaysia for the first 2017 testing session and now he is considered the number one title contender to threaten Marc Marquez.
“Maverick is very strong” – admitted Marc Marquez, 10th on the final day and 11th in the combined classification.
“I’m not so happy about my race pace, especially compared to what Maverick was able to do”, confessed Andrea Dovizioso, who finished 2nd at only 0.071 from the Yamaha rider, “Maverick has been the fastest and I think he was not at the limit. Of course, the verdict will come only with the race, but in this moment I can bet for a podium finish but not for the win because Viñales really made the difference”.
Such a strong performance creaks with the lap times of Valentino Rossi, 11th and 8 tenths from the teammate. “I could say I’m hiding my potential and this was only a tactics”, said the Number 46, “but unfortunately the reality is that in this moment we don’t have a solution, we can only hope in a miracle. Even the last day in Qatar was more difficult than the previous day. We started with the same bike to continue our programme, but I didn’t have the same feeling and the same speed. We put in a lot of effort to go a bit slower. I think we are still not ready, we don’t understand 100% how to make the bike work at the maximum” continued Valentino, who in the past has been the master in finding different set up solutions at the very last moment”.
The only weak point could be Maverick ‘s inexperience. Consider that he is at his third season in MotoGP and he has only one victory for a total of four podium finishes in the premiere class under his belt. The real threat to beat aces like Marc Marquez and even Jorge Lorenzo on the Ducati–who could be a very nice surprise at Losail– is Viñales’ capacity to deal the pressure. For what we could see in the winter test, it’s better if the rivals start really focused, because the 2017 season could be a sort of monotonous Marquez vs Viñales season.