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The story of pre-season so far in the 2017 MotoGP™ season has been written by one hand – that of Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Fastest in Valencia, fastest in Sepang and once again topping the timesheets at Phillip Island, the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion has more than hit the ground running in his new home at Yamaha. But the tale of racing is seldom a monologue – and so far the man with the best answer for Viñales’ pace has proved Repsol Honda’s reigning Champion Marc Marquez, switching one-lap fliers for constant rhythm.
Viñales may have taken to the top spot of late, but long run pace could be another story – one the number 93 has had at the forefront of his program since testing kicked off. Improvements, decisions and refinements aside, Marquez has spent a long time on long runs – especially in Australia – and has racked up an incredible amount of laps.
The recent test at Phillip Island saw the two Spaniards face-to-face on track for the first time, sharing the same piece of tarmac. That, as much as the laptimes, has lit the fuse on the rivalry in the press – with the 2016 Champion and the pretender to his crown already one of the hottest stories of the year, from MCN to Sport.es.
motorsport.com was one of those to report on Viñales’ frustration when Marquez tucked in behind him on a long run in Australia - as well as the rider from Cervera’s response.
“I really didn't understand it, because you are doing your job, your long run, and then being unable to push... I'm not going to carry him,” Viñales said to motorsport.com. “It's hard to keep on pushing when you have him behind and you know he can study what you do. So I had to abort the long run, which was a shame because I was doing mid-1m29s all the time. The next time I do a long run it will be my turn to bother him.”
That line became a headline almost immediately upon being spoken for many different stories covering the exciting battle-to-be – with Marca.com adding a little more detail to Marquez’ response.
Whereas motosport.com reported Marquez’ findings behind Viñales as “interesting” to the reigning Champion, Marca.com added that the number 93 says it is always interesting to follow a Yamaha – not necessarily just Viñales.
With the first shots of the season most definitely fired, the rivalry appears poised to re-ignite next time out – on the track and in the media. But both Marquez and Viñales seem more than ready:
“Maverick is very fast,” Marquez told Marca.com. “But we’re concentrating on our own program.”
And despite his frustration, Viñales also gave a tip of the hat to his rival – and the new rivalry – to motorsport.com.
“I'm happy. I think he did a great job too this weekend. It appears that we are both a step ahead of the rest, and it will be fun.”
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