Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales says he is happy to settle for fourth in the championship after a tough MotoGP race at Valencia today.
As he prepares to move to Movistar Yamaha on Tuesday, the Spaniard admitted today had been a tough one for the Suzuki as he struggled with tyre troubles in the second half of the race.
He eventually crossed the line fifth, but had to watch as Jorge Lorenzo claimed third in the championship, a spot he’d had half an eye on for the last few weeks.
“I was strong until nearly the end and finally we did more than 15 laps on the soft tyre and then it dropped a lot,” he said. “After lap 22 it really started to drop a lot
“I pushed and I make two or three mistakes and I nearly crashed so I said ‘ok, it’s better I bring the bike to the finish rather than end with zero points’.
“It was a difficult race because in the first part I felt really strong I was just riding, feeling good with the tyres but when it dropped it made it hard to catch anyone.”
Vinales said his biggest problem was lack of grip, and that although he was ok for speed, it meant attacking was almost impossible.
“My bike was lacking a lot of grip so I could not stay really close, was always difficult. What I could feel was our bike’s acceleration was not so good, but on the brakes and in the corners I was gaining everything.
I try to attack, but the only point was after corner three because I was making a lot of speed, I tried to attack but it was making a lot of risk to crash so I just had to hang on and see what happened in last laps. But I think we were fighting for the podium, fighting with the big guys and we did a good job today.”
Ahead of his move to join Valentino Rossi at Yamaha this week, Vinales paid tribute to his Suzuki squad.
“The championship went really good, I think 202 points are quite a lot and I’m quite happy. In two years I’d say I have grown up a lot as a rider and also first year was really difficult for me, being 11th, 12th, I always think ‘this is not my place’.
"But this year we demonstrate we are at the level, I improve as a rider and I can say we had a great season. Being fourth in the championship I think I did quite well. I need to say thank you to the team for an incredible job, I’m so proud of them.”