MotoGP

Vinales: I can be much more calm, relaxed

Maverick Viñales explains how new crew chief Esteban Garcia and rider coach Julian Simon help him maintain calm over a race weekend; “quite surprised” by pace on used tyres.

Maverick Viñales has hailed the impact of new crew chief Esteban Garcia, saying he now finds it easier to maintain a degree of calm and perspective throughout a MotoGP race weekend.

The 24-year old was speaking after he posted the second fastest time on Friday at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, a day in which he built on the enormous potential shown through preseason.

Viñales believes Garcia’s impact, coupled with the arrival of new rider coach Julian Simon, has resulted in a clearer means of attacking the limited track time available to riders over a stressful grand prix. “We have a place [and] we never hurry,” he said.

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“We have a really good feeling,” said the Catalan, 0.4s back of Marc Marquez on Friday night. “The atmosphere inside the team is completely different to last year, I can be much more calm inside, relaxed. And they make me stay really calm, and that's really positive.

“When everything is good, it's easy to be like this, but when things go wrong, I think Esteban and Julito will help me much more than when they are correct.

“We have a good plan. We follow the plan, and we don't go out of the plan, and that's very important. Like, sometimes last year I made ten laps in one run, or whatever.

“Now we follow the plan: we make four laps, four laps, four laps. And we don't go out of the plan. And I think that's really important, because that's the way to test everything. And like today, I made good runs.

“So I think that the way they help make me calm is we have a plan, they give me the things to try, and we never hurry up, and that's really important.”

Friday night’s pace was spectacular, with Marquez’s 1m 53.380s nearly a full second than the quickest lap of the preseason test held here two weeks ago. Even Viñales’ 1m 53.854s was 0.4s under his own best time from a fortnight ago, something that left him “really surprised.”

“I'm really happy we improved a lot the lap time from the test, and also from last year. So I started the year much better, with a good rhythm. I could hit many 1m 54s on the rhythm, and that was really important.

“We are working in the correct way, and I can push the bike. But anyway, we have to improve. I think right now, compared to our competitors, you can see that we are last in top speed, so we need to keep working really hard, and for sure the bike is getting better every day.

“Honestly I've been quite surprised. The race pace we did also with used tyres. Because I'm riding much faster than the test, and that's very positive. We changed and we modified the bike a little bit, and I felt much better. The good thing is that from the test until now, we improved, we didn't go back.”

Where did he feel these changes? “Right now, we improved a lot the entry in the corner, and also when I pick up the bike. That's my riding style, to enter fast into the corner, and pick the bike up fast. And do as few metres as I can with the bike leaned over.

“So right now we are building a good bike for that approach, and I think that for me, it's working. Because I can do a really good rhythm, and also in the fast lap, I can take a lot of profit from the tyres.

“At the moment, we are working in that way, trying to be faster on the entry of the corners, or at least to go deeper, and then to take the throttle early and pick up the bike very fast. I think that's the way the Michelin tyres can work better for me.”

Marquez posted his quickest lap when chasing Viñales at the close of FP2. Asked if he knew his great rival was behind at that point, the Monster Yamaha rider joked, “Yeah, I knew. But I know he is injured, so I tried to help him a little bit... Maybe I helped him too much!

“But it was important to see where our competitors are, so at the moment, we have to put the head down and work, work, work. They are forward at the moment, some tenths ahead, so we need to keep working really hard.”

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