Maverick Viñales believes the new Michelin tyres suit are potentially “even better” suited to his riding style than Bridgestone rubber after he finished the post-season test in Valencia a promising second overall.
Neither Viñales nor team-mate Aleix Espargaro sampled the 2016 spec electronics through the two-days and instead opted to focus on honing bike balance and set-up to accommodate the added grip of the new Michelin rear tyre.
The 2015 rookie of the year was one of several fallers on the final day but later shrugged off the fall, admitting he had exceeded the limit when chasing a fast time.
"Everyone crashed today I think," he joked. "The crash was because I was trying too much. I was trying to go to 1m 30s. I was coming more fast from my 31.1s. It means that I was a little bit over the limit."
While the Michelin front generally doesn't allow riders to brake into the entry of the corner - as the Bridgestones did before - and instead requires more straight line braking, Viñales felt only turn three needed a different approach, as entering a corner with full throttle can be problematic.
“For me the riding style didn't change. Maybe in corner three, fast corners like this that where you don't have so much weight in the front, with the Bridgestone I could do the corner all the time with the gas [open]. Now I need to close [the throttle] to put the weight in the front so it didn't close and I didn't lose the front.
“[I] only change there. In the other corners I am the same or even better,” he said, still only 20 years old, and 0.103s slower than the fastest time of the test.
“We moved the weight a little bit more in the front after the first crash. I think we still need to improve on the brakes. I want to improve there. For us it's the weak point, one track that is stop-and-go. In Malaysia I'm going to be really focused to improve the brakes. Like sector three, where there are no brakes or sector three we are quite strong there.
“I was feeling good. The line was really similar in all the laps, which means we make a really stable bike – I can make the same like all the time. Then, for example in many corners I could improve from the race. I think at the moment the Michelin is working good in our bike.”
Like fellow outgoing rookie Jack Miller, Viñales only used the Bridgestone rubber for one year, meaning, theoretically, he may not be as set in his ways as other men adapting to the new required style.
Choosing not to sample the Michelin tyres at tests like Mugello, when several high profile riders fell, the Catalan hasn't felt the same apprehension regarding the front tyre as others have.
“For sure I wasn't used to ride on Bridegstone. I was only riding [with them] for one year. When I get the Michelin I could ride the same and I don't have any problem. We were intelligent, we didn't try the Michelins in Mugello or tracks that were not good. I come here and I trust the tyres, I'm not really careful [worried] that the front [tyre] go.”
Expanding on where the current GSX-RR needs to improve ahead of his second season in the premier class, Viñales feels ensuring the bike has an excellent braking capacity is the top priority, especially considering their speed deficit.
Should he start poorly in the future, he explained, prowess under braking is essential when making your way through a pack, chiefly at tracks lacking in natural flow.
“I always said that our bike is really good for the fast corners or for the sectors that you don't need to brake. Still I think our bike needs to improve a lot in the hard brakes. For the first part or the next step next year I would like to have one bike that I can brake more hard going in.
“It also makes it difficult to pass in the races. In some races I have bad luck, a bad start, start from 17th and I could not overtake the others until the tyre go down. For sure I want to make one bike that in case I have a bad start is like this, I want the bike to stay there. Now, when I brake late I always go out. I want to make one bike so I can brake hard.”
Viñales went on to state he felt that while HRC and Yamaha riders have complained of the spec electronics through the two days, the 'Factory' might will ensure they come to Qatar with a more usable system.
Scheduled to try the electronics in Sepang at the end of November, Viñales feels it is too early to judge how the Suzuki will react to the new system.
“I don't know yet but with the experience that the team has they say it could be a little bit better. At the moment I cannot say if it's better [for us] or not. The tyres I can say that for our bike make it more stable and I am riding it a little bit better.”