Moto GP

Tissot Grand Prix of Doha: Vinales expects tough challenge in second MotoGP week

Maverick Vinales, winner of the opening round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship last Sunday, won’t go into this week’s second round in a complacent mood. The second round of the championship - Tissot Grand Prix of Doha - kicks off at the iconic Losail International Circuit (LIC) with the first free practice sessions taking place today. Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) yesterday headlined the top six riders from last week’s opening round he won ahead of Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and pole winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team).

Defending world champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were also present at the pre-event news conference. Last year, MotoGP fans saw five circuits host back-to-back Grands Prix and only the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto witnessed the same winner twice in a row. Points leader Vinales yesterday said no two race weekends are the same. “No! It’s never perfect, very difficult to be perfect at all the tracks,” Vinales said yesterday. “We have to improve and do something different this weekend. Not every weekend is the same, we saw last year that when there was two weekends in a row, everything changed a lot. So we have to be ready for any situation.

Anyway, we know we have a good potential and we will try to fix it if we cannot go at the maximum,” the popular Spaniard added. “I think all the riders can make a step, we will also try to make a step. It is very important to improve day by day and for sure all the riders siting here, and in the top 10, will be faster. We will try to be a little bit faster, and we will see. "What we can understand is the tyre demands are very high, we need to manage really well and for sure we will work on that during the weekend,” he said. Third-place finisher in Qatar Bagnaia and Zarco will be hoping to manage the rear tyres better so they can put up a fight in the closing stages of the second round on Sunday. “I think it’s as Maverick says, the construction of the tyre is always hard to manage. My race, staying second, me and Pecco and then try to follow Maverick I think helped me a lot to be competitive until the end and even have…. Mir at the end overtook me, almost at the end of the last lap and this gave me the possibility to overtake him again,” Zarco said yesterday.

“For Pecco, I think he doesn’t want to lead the race again to save the tyres. This is the key point, the one who leads the race maybe will have more problems in the second half but at the same time we need to be fast so let’s see how to manage this Sunday. "Our target is to have more possibility to be fast at the end of the race like Maverick did, and fight with him or another rider, to be able to fight for victory, not just a podium chance,” he said. Bagnaia echoed Zarco’s sentiments when he said: “I think the same. Yamaha and Suzuki have been very competitive like us. In the first part of the race we were very competitive, opening up a gap, and we were losing time in some acceleration that cost us the race but for me we don’t have to be worried. We know this track is good for us, but it’s also good for other bikes.” He added: “We have the possibility to win for sure but we have the possibility at other circuits, like we saw last year. Sometimes, I was struggling and Johann and Jack were fast, sometimes I was fast and the other riders were struggling." He said: "We know the package is very competitive and the possibility to win or be in the top three is very possible. The great objective this year is to be competitive and constant in every situation and at every circuit.” Mir and Rins said they have a fierce challenge in front of them but staying with the top pack is target for the second week also. “It was a difficult weekend because I struggled a lot to find the correct feeling with the front, I was having a lot of problems and this was making everything really difficult." "Hopefully in warm up we found something interesting and I got the feeling again a bit better, and I was able to make a good race,” world champion Mir said. “I expect to change a little bit the qualifying or the first laps of the race. We were really strong in the last part but also, we recovered, we closed a lot the gaps and also used more the tyre than normally what you have to. “It will be important to start with the first group and then manage the race with them and to see in the last part of the race where we are so this is the main goal for the weekend.” Rins said yesterday: “I think we did a good race but, in the end sixth was not enough for us. We need to improve small things that I did during the race. The target is quite clear, we have good pace and we have the machine to go on the front, so let’s improve the start because my start from last week was a disaster.” He added: “Let’s improve the start and try to fight for the top positions from the beginning, I mean, let’s keep the tyres and also let’s see which strategy Ducati will make, because now Pecco already lead one race and he knows the way to do it now.”

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