Maverick Viñales believes he has a shot at a podium finish in Assen after he ended the first day of MotoGP free practice in fourth place.
After a post-race test in Austin, Viñales was asked to rate the upcoming circuits in terms of podium potential. In the 21-year old's eyes, Assen's fast, free-flowing layout represented the best chance of a competitive showing in the first half of the year.
“Still, I think so,” he said, when reminded of that particular comment. “If we work hard these two days a podium is possible at this track.”
With both of his Suzuki GSX-RRs armed with a new 'evolution' chassis after positive tests in Valencia and Barcelona, Viñales felt the first day of free practice in the Netherlands confirmed the good feelings he experienced prior to the event.
“Still we need to work because I don't think the bike is giving us the 100 percent just yet with the set-up we have now. We need to explore a little bit more for tomorrow. Also the electronics was not completely in place.
“In some places there was a lot of power. Then in others there was not enough power, not enough traction control. On Friday you work a lot on this. If the bike wasn't working at 100 percent today then I think we have possibilities for Saturday.”
On the reason for choosing the chassis, he continued, “I chose this one because in Montmeló because it had more grip. We missed a lot in the race. We'll try it. We want to take the positive points from it and we hope that during the race weekend we can take profit of it.
“We try it because we always miss that grip in the last laps so we're going to try. Maybe it's worse this weekend but we're going to try it.”
Finishing the first session in eighth, 0.410s slower than the fastest time, Viñales improved his personal best by close to eight tenths of a second in the afternoon.
Speaking of whom he feels he can challenge, the Catalan added, “I think on the terms of pace we were quite similar to Iannone and Marc with the hard tyre. With the new tyre I don't know. Maybe one rider pushed so hard. For sure I can push more with the soft one.”