Vinales says "top seven" the target despite taking pole
Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales says a top-seven finish would be “great” in the MotoGP 2018 season finale in Valencia, despite having claimed a surprise pole in qualifying.
After three wet practice sessions, Vinales sat outside the combined classification top 10 and was thus resigned to fighting through Q1.
But with the track drying ahead of qualifying the Yamaha man proved more competitive, and while he only advanced to the pole shoot-out by half a tenth, he then stunned the field to claim his first pole since Aragon last year.
However, with Sunday weather forecasts suggesting a wet race and the factory-spec M1 bike still appearing to lack relative pace in the rain, Vinales made it clear he would be content with a top-seven finish.
“Just need to be able to make the target,” he said. “Our target is trying to be into the top seven, so I will try my best.
“Being into the top seven would be great. In the practices we [have] never been so strong in the wet.
“We have a lot to improve, for tomorrow, let's see. I never start in the front on a rain race, let's see if we can improve also following the top riders.”
Vinales' feelings are in contrast to teammate Rossi, who felt stronger in the rain on Friday, before dropping back in FP3 and then struggling badly in the dry to qualify only 16th.
In the meantime, Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco, in his final race weekend with Yamaha, has looked competitive in a variety of conditions on Saturday, even though a late qualifying crash cost him a likely shot at Vinales' pole time and consigned him to 11th on the grid.
The Frenchman – who also crashed in the wet on Friday – admitted that he was concerned about the prospect of a very wet track, as this would favour Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci, who sits just five points behind Zarco in the fight for top independent rider honours in 2018.
“This morning [in FP3] on wet, it was wet condition but not too much water on the track and I was feeling comfortable, much better than yesterday,” Zarco said.
“I could have constant laptime and quite fast in 1m40s. Not fast enough to go under 40 and be close to 39, but if I do all the race on the wet in 40, I think I can wish [for] great things.
“[If it's] heavy-heavy rain, if we understood well why I crash on Friday and then I get the quite good feeling from the [Sunday] warm-up, then maybe I can wish for a great race.
“In case we don't find it with the heavy rain, I will be worried because Danilo is pretty fast and he loves that kind of condition, he is able to ride with confidence and be fast. He is the main guy to check tomorrow.”
Additional reporting by William Zinck
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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