The final clue is still missing, but proof is mounting. Maverick Vinales cannot hide any longer. Having set the fastest time today, he sends his rivals a clear message. While Rossi is struggling, the Spaniard is flying with the M1, only he and Marquez were able to duck under 1’29”.
“I'm pleased, because we've tested all the material we had available, with positive results. I realise that I'm continuously improving. I'm feeling very confident ahead of Qatar, though I know we still have work to do”.
What did you focus on today?
“I worked to define the set-up of the bike, and also completed some long run, in which I was competitive, my pace was good, on the same level as Marquez”.
Marc also lapped in under 1’29”.
“I knew he'd do it too. We're going to have fun this year”.
What are you still missing?
“We need to work on the hard braking, as I don't feel as good I want to there. That's fundamental on the last lap of a race”.
You have a new team with Marelli and Forcada. How is the relationship so far?
“We're not 100% there yet, because I'm still only at the start of my Yamaha experience, but we'll get there soon”.
You were once again quickest. Are you thinking about the title?
“To be honest, not really. I'm just focusing on the bike, to understand how far I can push”.
Valentino represents the flip side of the coin for Yamaha. Would you have expected this?
“I'm not sure about Rossi, I've seen him working on various things this week. I prefer to concentrate on my bike, building my confidence".
Now you head to Qatar. Will it be a head to head with Marquez?
“I think it will be difficult to repeat what I've done in Malaysia and Australia, because the Ducatis will fly there. But I'm very motivated”.
If you were racing tomorrow, could you aim for the win?
“Sure, Marc and I have the same pace and will be the favourites”.
You've only recently arrived and have proved to be quick. Do you feel you are already a reference point for Yamaha?
“Definitely not. To underestimate Valentino would be a big mistake”.