'We can be competitive for the top positions in any race' - those are the words of a 'very confident' Maverick Vinales ahead of his second and final Japanese MotoGP appearance as a Suzuki rider.
The young Spaniard handed the factory its first MotoGP win since 2007 at Silverstone and returned to the front of the field for seven laps last time at Aragon.
And now he expects more of the same in the remaining four rounds.
“I feel very confident, we are growing race after race and now we are aware that we can be competitive for the top positions in any race," Vinales said. "It's a good feeling, because it allows us to work with less pressure and keep the focus on our method.
"The machine has grown, but also our understanding of the electronics and the set-ups allow us to be more competitive.
"For sure in Motegi we will also take advantage to collect more information and transfer directly to the Japanese developers. Last year the rain complicated our weekend, so I'm happy that now we have different solutions to be competitive in the wet conditions.”
While Vinales is heading to Yamaha next season, team-mate Aleix Espargaro is joining Aprilia. But while Vinales is fighting Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa for fourth in the world championship, Espargaro is down in twelfth after a frustrating season in which he has never felt confident with the front of his GSX-RR.
“Recently I haven't been as competitive as I would have liked because I can't understand how to exploit the front tyre yet," he said. "My team is doing a great job, the machine has grown a lot, but I still miss that something in my riding style that could allow me to get closer to the top.
"I've made a strong preparation for this race, as it will also be the first of a three-in-a-row series that will be very demanding physically and mentally, and my determination is at the top, I would really like to get an outstanding result with Suzuki before the end of the season, as a reward for all the effort we have made so far.”
Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins will race for Suzuki in 2017.