Spanish MotoGP star Maverick Vinales said he ‘feels’ ready for the start of the new season, which will kick off with the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar at the iconic Losail International Circuit (LIC) on Sunday.
Vinales and his Monster Energy Yamaha stablemate Fabio Quartararo enjoyed their time during the pre-season testing on their bikes for four days before the last session was spiked because of a dust storm at LIC two weeks ago.
After the fourth day of testing, Vinales, 26, said: “After this test my feelings are very positive. We are calm. We understand the situation, we know which direction we need to follow and we have been working very hard on being as fast as we can, especially at the beginning of the race.”
He added: “The behaviour of the bike is nice, it’s handling well. This is important with a full fuel tank. Right now, we are on a good level. We got done what I wanted to accomplish during this test. I feel ready for the start of the season.
“We already know that we can be very fast on one lap and have a good rhythm. That’s very positive, but there are other points that we can further improve, and we are working really hard on that. I’m concentrating on my race starts.
"We are also concentrating on the first laps with a new tire and a full fuel tank, which is important. We are making a lot of progress and this is making us very happy. We are really motivated,” Vinales said when reviewing the testing under lights at LIC.
Here are excerpts from a Q&A session with the MotoGP star who also spoke about his association with Qatar Motor Academy (QMA).
Q: How do you look back at the 2020 season?
A: 2020 season was difficult. We had an issue with the engine so we struggled during all of the season. Anyway we managed to have good results and for sure (we got something) to build positive for the future.
Q: How difficult was it to adjust to a stalled season because of the pandemic situation?
A: It was very difficult. But DORNA did a perfect job to bring all of us to the tracks and to create a parallel world to keep us clean from COVID-19.
Q: What are your expectations in the new season?
A: In this season I want to enjoy, to have fun, to have the eyes on the prize, be a man on a mission.
Q: What’s your take on the two races in Qatar at the start of the new season?
A: I love Qatar. I love Losail track. We will enjoy a lot and we will try to build a good bike for the rest of the season.
Q: Do you like racing at Losail Circuit and why?
A: I like the circuit because it is very cool to race at night. Also after you finish the day, hotels are very nice, always good food, and the people are very friendly so we can enjoy also outside the track.
Q: Do you think you can in 2021 better your 6th-place finish from last year?
A: For sure I can better (my results). For the last 4 years, I’ve been mostly in the podium positions. We need to switch on properly and go for the goal.
Q: Tell us something about your bike for the new season.
A: We will try to give the maximum power to perform better and be more strong.
Q: How do you look back at your time at QMA since you joined them in 2019?
A: In 2019 I joined the QMA before Jerez Grand Prix and I got to spend valuable time on the track to prepare myself to be better. Also, I enjoyed so much with the kids and playing around with the bike.
Q: Do you believe your role at QMA has helped the young riding enthusiasts to improve their skill set on a bike?
A: QMA is doing a great job. I’ve seen some kids very fast and also some girls. The way they train is more than efficient to have a future talent in MotoGP.
Q: How do you rate the riding skills of young Qataris that you have seen in action?
A: Long time ago I was also a kid who was looking at his heroes. I think when I go there for training they can learn and get enthusiastic about riding with me.
Q: How do you rate the bike or motor sport passion that is there in Qatar?
A: Since the first year I landed in Doha in 2011, I can feel the passion, I feel that Qatar is doing a great job for their riders. I have many Qatari friends.