Maverick Vinales says he exceeded his own expectations this season as the Yamaha-bound MotoGP prospect gears up for his final race on the Ecstar Suzuki this weekend at Valencia.

Vinales, who will join Valentino Rossi in the factory Movistar team in 2017 following Jorge Lorenzo's move to Ducati, still retains a slim chance of finishing third in final championship standings.

The young Spaniard is 17 points behind Jorge Lorenzo heading into the final round of the season at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, but whatever happens, Vinales can reflect on a highly impressive year that included his maiden premier class triumph following a runaway victory at Silverstone.

"Last year's race was not one of the best, but since then we made solid progress and we can say we are in a totally different situation. Already, in the test we did this year, our performance resulted in improvement, but most important factor is the steps forward we have made in the second half of the season," said Vinales.

"Now we feel we can be competitive in any conditions, and this is a great injection of enthusiasm for everyone. We feel we can compete with the top riders and teams, and we have already proved we can be on the podium consistently - which is a good way to end a season.

"This race will be important because we still have some hopes for the third place in the championship. When we started the season, our objective was to end in the top-six, but then during the season our competitiveness increased a lot; maybe even more than we expected and this had increased our ambition," he added.

"We as a team are all racers, this means we always strive for the best result possible. We are already satisfied with the season, but we will try to exploit this last chance to get something even more and close these two years together in the best possible way."

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There are some good stories for next year. Besides the Factory Yam vs Honda there is Lorenzo at Ducati and Vinales to Yamaha: the last two I'll be watching closest.