Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales started the Argentina MotoGP weekend in 18th place, but set-up improvements have helped carry him to second in qualifying, behind only Honda’s Marc Marquez.
“If you told me on Friday this was going to happen, I would have said ‘No’. Yesterday, we were a bit lost, we struggled a lot compared to Qatar, especially with the rear grip. But we made good steps today, especially in FP4, I felt much better and we need to continue working,” he said.
“There’s still room for improvement, so we keep working. I think our competitors are on a better level, especially on electronics, so we need to keep pushing and let’s see tomorrow. I think we can improve and be stronger.”
On pole at round one, Vinales’ race hopes came undone when he struggled to overtake after losing ground at the start, an issue he has also worked on this weekend.
“We need to start well, be at the front in the first laps, and I’m going to try to ride aggressively in the first laps,” he said. “I feel much better on hard braking. We are using quite different set-ups so I feel good to overtake.
“I’m going to try my best. I think it’s going to be a difficult race, because everyone is very close. We don’t know the race pace yet, but for sure I will try to be there tomorrow at the front, fighting and then let’s see what we can do.”
But like his rivals, Vinales isn’t sure what to expect if the forecast rain arrives.
“I didn’t try the bike in the wet yet so we don’t know. In Valencia we showed good potential in the wet so let’s see if we can be strong. I’m curious to see if the bike is good enough in the wet.”
Team-mate Valentino Rossi will start from fourth on the grid – an improvement of ten places compared to Qatar, where he finished as the leading M1 in fifth.
“It was a good Friday and a good Saturday. I’m happy to start from the fourth position because my lap was good, not so far from the pole position. I also had a good feeling with the bike and with the race tires I Have a good pace,” Rossi said.
It’s true that we have another five to six riders who are very strong so it will be a tough race, for sure.
“In this track the M1 is fast, we are all in front. But it will be important to try to work on the small details tonight and after we have to wait and see the conditions tomorrow, because the forecast is difficult.
“If it’s a wet race, it’s like we’re starting from zero. Nobody knows. In Valencia in the wet I was fast. But this is another track, another story and we hope that if it will be a wet race, we can so have a wet warm-up.”