Yesterday Valentino had indicated the third step of the podium as the best possible result and that is where he finished today, but after 17 out of 20 laps leading the race, perhaps he expected more. “I’ll admit it. I had begun to taste victory in my mouth and until 5 laps from the end I thought I could do it” he admits.
Then what happened?
“It’s always the usual problem. There was deterioration in the finale so I had to slow down a few tenths and that was enough for Andrea and Maverick to overtake me, without being able to counterattack. It was frustrating.”
Are you angry?
“No, if anything a bit disappointed. Anyway, a podium is a nice way to celebrate my 300 Grand Prix races in the premier class, plus I know that I gave it my all. I rode well and I didn’t make any mistakes. There was nothing more I could have done today.”
It wasn’t a mistake to play the role of the hare?
“I would have preferred to stay behind Marquez and Crutchlow, catch a tow from them, but when you think about one thing, the opposite always happens (he laughs). At the end of the day, it went fine like this. I stayed out of trouble and I wasn’t pushing to the limit. I was riding smoothly.”
Viñales placed his bet on the soft rear tyre. Was that the right choice?
“To be honest, the 3 options that Michelin brings are very similar to one another. The choice is very personal. It depends on the riding style of each rider and his weight. From what my crew chief Galbusera says, they are very similar to the Pirelli tyres in that sense. In any case, I would not have been faster with the soft.”
Have you changed your mind about your chances for the Championship after this result?
“I am still sceptical and realistic. A gap of 26 points is not a lot, but I am 4th in the standings and we still have the problem of the final laps. It is a technical limit and I will give my full support to solve it. It is something that happened to me on the Yamaha with Michelins 10 years ago, before switching to the Bridgestones. We need to get the rear tyre to work better.”
So what is the primary goal?
“Getting back to winning before thinking about the title, being protagonists in the races like we were here. In the end, the result today was above my expectations.”
Who are the favourites for the title?
“Dovizioso and Marquez. I understand very well what Marc went through today. The same happened to me last year at Mugello and I was desperate. When you crash you take the blame and you know that it can also happen to others, but with a blown engine everything is different.”
Is Dovizioso surprising you?
“A bit. It had been a while since he had won… but now he is getting a taste for it, I even said that to him (he laughs). Andrea has great talent and dedication to the job.”
“It is nice for Italy and I would like to have a nice duel against Dovi, because lately when he passes me he is too fast then (he laughs). There is respect between the two of us. On the track he is aggressive, but he is also a fair rival.”
Make a prediction for the Championship…
“I would like us to arrive in Valencia with 5 riders tied for points and then I would like free practice, qualifying and warm up to be sunny… and then I’d like it to chuck down rain for the race (he laughs).”