MotoGP Qatar: Rossi: Vinales can stay with us in the race.

Valentino Rossi has tipped Maverick Vinales to be a threat in Sunday's Qatar MotoGP after being impressed with the young Spaniard during FP1. Rossi posted the second fastest time on the Movistar Yamaha with a lap in 1m 55.707s, which left him two tenths behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. The nine-time world champion followed Suzuki prospect Vinales in the opening free practice session and praised the 21-year-old afterwards, touting him as a future MotoGP winner. 

“Maverick rides very well, he has very good lines and a very good way to use MotoGP and I think he will be one of the riders that can win in MotoGP,” Rossi said. 

“He is a great talent, he is f*****g young – too young! And also the bike, the Suzuki is improved. So I think that Maverick can stay with us in the race, yes.” 

Rossi also expects the straight line speed of the Ducati riders to pose significant problems in Sunday's night race, with the long front straight at the Losail International Circuit offering the perfect passing opportunity for the super-fast Desmosedici. 

“We have some data and it looks like the problem for everybody is this track because the GP16 has 10kph more,” said Rossi, who was then informed that the difference in top speed was actually 12kph. 

“I don't see the official data but twelve [kph] is a problem and if they are able to stay behind, in the straight they win the race. At the same time, it looks like the Honda is a little bit closer to us and Suzuki improve. 

“So I think here in Qatar, top speed will be an important issue for the race. For me, our bike is still better in the corner [than Ducati], so this is better for the tyres. We speak, but nobody knows until Sunday night,” he added. 

“Apart from that, it was a good start like I said, also because I was able to improve my lap time from the test.” 

Rossi also expects the Michelin tyres to ultimately work more in his favour this season on the Yamaha, although he says the theory needs to be proven in a race situation. 

“On paper, I think with Michelin it can be a little bit better for me because they are different tyres and also you can arrive a little bit more step by step. For me the tyres and electronics is good for the show, but we have to wait,” he said. 

“But this is on paper and in the test I finished fifth here and sixth in Australia, so I was not in pole position. My target, if I want to try to fight for the important positions, is that I need to improve in the qualifying, so we have to work from this point of view. I say maybe yes, but we have to wait to Saturday. 

“I feel good with the bike but now it will be very important to make a good job because I think today the track is different, a lot more dirt compared to the test, so we need to improve the setting practice by practice to arrive ready for the Sunday,” he added. 

“Also it will be important to make the right decision for the tyre because it is new and with Bridgestone we had a lot more experience. With Michelin, making the right choice will be important.” 



1. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 55.440s [Lap 15/15] 335km/h (Top Speed)

2. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 55.707s +0.267s [17/17] 338km/h

3. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP16) 1m 55.736s +0.296s [8/16] 347km/h

4. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 55.810s +0.370s [16/16] 340km/h

5. Maverick Viñales ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 55.847s +0.407s [16/16] 336km/h

6. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 56.051s +0.611s [18/18] 335km/h

7. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 56.098s +0.658s [13/16] 336km/h

8. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 56.258s +0.818s [15/15] 336km/h

9. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP16) 1m 56.387s +0.947s [8/14] 344km/h

10. Scott Redding GBR Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 56.412s +0.972s [14/16] 334km/h

11. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 56.524s +1.084s [13/17] 334km/h

12. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 1m 56.596s +1.156s [11/16] 334km/h

13. Loris Baz FRA Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 56.783s +1.343s [13/14] 331km/h

14. Jack Miller AUS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V) 1m 56.939s +1.499s [9/16] 334km/h

15. Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 56.981s +1.541s [17/17] 334km/h

16. Aleix Espargaro ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 57.096s +1.656s [16/16] 328km/h

17. Alvaro Bautista ESP Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 57.129s +1.689s [13/16] 332km/h

18. Yonny Hernandez COL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 57.192s +1.752s [14/14] 334km/h

19. Eugene Laverty IRL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 57.421s +1.981s [11/14] 337km/h

20. Tito Rabat ESP Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V)* 1m 57.916s +2.476s [18/18] 328km/h

21. Stefan Bradl GER Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 57.989s +2.549s [15/15] 327km/h

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