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Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales spoke exclusively to motogp.com after a sensational test in Phillip Island.
Maverick Viñales is undoubtedly one of the riders with the greatest potential currently in the MotoGP™ World Championship. His step to the premier class in 2015 with Team Suzuki Ecstar saw him take the Rookie of the Year crown, start on the front row at the Catalunya GP and reach sixth in Phillip Island, just six seconds behind the race winner.
After his encouraging performance in the first two pre-season tests in Malaysia and Australia, many are looking at Viñales to take the final leap and join Lorenzo, Rossi, Pedrosa and Marquez as a premier class ‘alien’.
According to some, a true ‘alien’ will take a podium, race win or pole during their freshman year in MotoGP™. However, the case of Viñales is slightly different as 2015 coincided with Suzuki’s return to the premier class, the season one of development for the Hamamatsu based factory. Many fans continue to wonder if Suzuki have found their new Kevin Schwantz in the young Viñales...
First of all, congratulations for setting the fastest time during testing at Phillip Island. How do you feel physically and mentally ahead of this season?
“Thank you! The truth is that I feel that the performance of the bike has improved a lot already this spring and this has given me a lot of confidence during testing. Physically, I feel good. In addition, running in Phillip Island always helps me; it is a circuit I know well and where last year I felt really comfortable. The circuit has a lot to do with these results.”
At Sepang you had good results, but few expected you to end Phillip Island so well. How was the second test of the year for you?
“To end first in Australia has given the whole team a lot of extra motivation for the forthcoming test in Qatar. Also, despite the bad weather, we could try many things, both with the new chassis and the new electronics. We are still ironing out details and improving, which is ultimately the most important part. Our best is yet to come, we have work to do and we need to use the time we have left before the first race.”
We understand you managed your best time in Phillip Island using the 2015 frame. What do you think of the 2016 material?
“The weather did not let us work as hard as we would have liked at times, but for now the change is positive: I think the Suzuki chassis remains one of the best in the championship and the engine is now more powerful. We have taken a step forward.”
You’ve begun testing the final seamless gearbox?
“We have not yet tested the full one. Only Tsuda, the test rider, tested the fully seamless gearbox in Australia. Suzuki are now analysing the data in order to introduce it into our bikes.”
Looking at your progress over the past year and the beginning of this one, it appears that Suzuki and yourself are about to take a big leap this year. Are you hoping to move forward with Suzuki, together?
“Personally, I feel more mature and ready as I have been through my period of adjustment as a rookie in 2015, and now we look forward to of course better results. I can better explain my needs and the technicians are able to propose solutions faster. I am very happy working here.”
Finally, if you finish the season without climbing onto the podium, will you be disappointed?
“The goal we have set is to finish in the top six in each race, so hopefully we can finish a race on the podium. If we work at 100% I am sure that we can compete with the top riders. It is still early to talk about what is disappointing and what is not, we will keep working for it.”
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