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The announcement of Suzuki Motor Corporation’s return to the World Championship with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales had been expected for some time, but on Tuesday the formal announcement finally came. In an interview with motogp.com, Viñales shares his feelings and expectations ahead of 2015.
The Suzuki announcement for Viñales comes at a perfect time, with the reigning Moto3™ World Champion having won his second Moto2™ race of the season at MotorLand Aragon last weekend.
Maverick, the Suzuki news is now official. How are you going to tackle a challenge of this calibre?
Yes! It’s now official and I’m thrilled. The fact a name like Suzuki trusts you like this means you have worked well over the years. I hope to give them what they expect of me.
What about the responsibility of becoming a MotoGP rider and the fact that you will be sharing the race track with such famous names?
It is going to be fantastic to compete with guys like Valentino (Rossi), Marc (Marquez) and Jorge (Lorenzo)…that should be amazing! It is a very nice project, but we will have to work our very hardest and be very competitive.
Do you get the impression that everything is happening very quickly, or that your career is simply progressing in a natural way? Do you feel ready for MotoGP?
To be completely honest, I feel more ready for it all the time. With each and every race weekend that goes by, I am working better and better in Moto2. I know more about the team and the bike and am adapting better each time to each circuit. Also, I am becoming more and more confident in my own decisions.
Were you at all surprised, when Suzuki first approached you, that such an esteemed manufacturer was putting its trust into a rookie MotoGP rider like yourself?
Of course…at first it felt like it was a joke! I was in my first Moto2 season and, all of a sudden, a big factory like Suzuki wanted me. At first you think to yourself, ‘They will want to talk to me in a couple of years’, but ultimately they wanted me for next year and we were able to reach an agreement. This is like a dream. I am very happy to be moving up to the premier class and I’m eager to get going.
Do you expect to achieve an equal performance to your team-mate Aleix Espargaro, or will his MotoGP experience means he has a more prominent role in developing the bike?
Of course, I believe Aleix has a very important role to play here and especially when it comes to the development of the bike. It will all be new to me. However, I’ve always adapted well to new bikes and I will definitely try to do the best I can.
In just a few days you will travel to Japan for the next Grand Prix. It will be a good opportunity for you to meet more people from Suzuki, or perhaps even visit the factory…
At the moment, no factory visit is scheduled. I will wait to see what happens this week, but I would love to visit the factory and meet the staff!
How closely have you been able to track the progress of the bike over the test sessions so far in 2014?
Very closely, I have followed everything and have been looking very closely into the times. I know they have improved greatly, but it is clear that until we test the bike ourselves we don’t know exactly where we are in relation to our competitors.
In the meantime, let us not forget Moto2. Last weekend you won in Aragon and wrapped up the Rookie of the Year award. Does that mean much to you?
Of course! I came into the category expecting a close battle with Luis Salom, who is also in his rookie year and with whom I fought last year in Moto3. So far, Luis has had a little more trouble in the Moto2 category, but for myself the title of Rookie of the Year is great and to seal it with four races still to go makes it even better.
Do you have any specific targets for the rest of this season? Such as hit the 100 point mark or finish runner-up in the championship, for example?
Picking up the world title would be very difficult now, but I do hope I can catch Mika Kallio for second overall. I’ve got to give it my all, though (with Viñales currently third overall and 41 points behind the Finn). That is my clear objective for these last four races. I think Tito (Rabat) will be thinking very much about the championship, so I will try and take advantage of that to try and win another race.
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