Ever since leading the pre-season Phillip Island test, Suzuki's Maverick Vinales has named the Australian event as his best chance of a MotoGP victory.

The young Spaniard returns to the circuit having already taken the GSX-RR to a first win, at Silverstone, then rebuilding his momentum with fifth-fourth-third places in the events leading up to this weekend.

Even world champion Marc Marquez expects Vinales to be a victory contender on Sunday, so is he bothered by the extra pressure?

"No, for sure not," Vinales stated confidently. "It motivates me a lot and I think it motivates the team also. It is like we feel we can do it. It is much easier than if I came here without any possibilities [to win].

"I think in the race we are going to be really strong because we bring a lot of information from Alcaniz and Japan, so I think here we are going to try to be in the front. Also it will be important to be on the front row in qualifying.

"I'll focus on the weekend like I did in Japan. Just Friday work for the race and Saturday looking more for a fast lap. So we will see. Anyway you never know, in the test I feel so fast, but now it might be more difficult.

"What I know is that for my riding style, it is a really good track. I've always been really fast and successful.

"Also the Suzuki has really good stability in the front and always I can go aggressive and fast through the corners, which here is a little bit of an advantage. We will see. We are going to try to be at 100 percent as in Japan and hope that the bike is a little better than Japan.

"We also hope we have good tyres all weekend. Because this will also count at the end of the race.

Vinales and his team have put considerable effort into maintaining pace for the full race distance and were rewarded with a late charge to the podium in Motegi. However starting in seventh meant it was too late to close the four-second gap to Marquez and victory.

"If I started in the front I could go with Marc," Vinales confirmed. "Because I lose many seconds battling all the time. The first laps when you have grip on the tyres you need to push more and more, and it's difficult when you start in the back. But anyway it showed that we were working in a good way all weekend."

And if the typically changeable Phillip Island weather results in a wet weekend?

"If it's in wet we need to work more. But anyway this track doesn't need so much grip, more riding style. We will see. At Silverstone I felt strong in the wet in qualifying so I think I can feel good."

By Peter McLaren


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