Having secured pole position at Aragon, and noted his recent performances in the dry, Maverick Viñales was entitled to awaken on Sunday morning believing a fourth win of the season was well within his reach.

Yet race day underlined similar failings for the 22-year old and the Yamaha M1, as he limited damage the best he could, collecting fourth place after a slow start and an entertaining – if slightly edgy – battle with team-mate Valentino Rossi.

With Friday’s sporadic rain showers limiting dry set-up time to Saturday and Sunday morning, Viñales in that short time concluded Michelin’s hard rear tyre would best serve his approach in the 23-lap race.

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It soon became clear that was the wrong choice and a tough first lap saw Viñales slip to fifth. The laps that followed must have been sobering for the championship hopeful, as the leading quartet of Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso broke clear. Viñales simply couldn’t respond.

The can be no doubting Viñales did well to maintain his composure, and pick off Dovizioso and Rossi toward the end. But with title rival Marquez victorious and Viñales picking up 13 points, he now sits 28 behind his fellow Catalan with four races remaining. “It will now be really difficult,” he conceded.

Furthermore, Viñales found the M1 to be spinning excessively on corner exit – a familiar complaint from August -, leaving him to conclude that Yamaha still has work to do before it can consider this year’s machine to be capable of winning the title.

“We didn't know if we had the right tyre because with the medium tyre we had no grip. I don't know but for sure it was frustrating. I woke up this morning with the target to win but when you look at your opponents starting to open a gap and even when you are riding at 200 percent you can't close the gap.

“I was lucky that I could manage the tyres until the end and it was lucky that some other riders also had a bit tyre drop at the end. For the championship it will now be really difficult because we have to improve the bike. In the traction area we are losing a lot (on exit) but the front of the bike is working really well. We need to improve the rear.”

Was losing the first day of free practice key? “For sure losing Friday hurt us because if we had practiced on Friday for sure I would have known not to use the harder tyre and I'd have used the soft. I'd have been able to work on the bike and make the soft tyre last longer.

“I thought that this tyre was the right choice because we didn't have a lot of experience and our opponents, except Dovi, all went with the hard tyre. In the morning the lap time was slow and we made this decision and once we decided to do that we did our best. If we are to fight for the title though we need to improve the bike.”

On the scrap with Rossi that lasted until the final lap, Viñales was unperturbed by his team-mate’s utter refusal to allow him to pass without a fight. “Valentino was blocking me but he was faster than me in the end,” he said. “It was a good fight between us but I could only try and overtake on the brakes because I didn't have enough traction.

“I had to make some moves that were on the limit but it was good fun. In the early laps I could see that Valentino had more grip than us but I think that we did well with the electronics to recover from that.”

Viñales was impressed by Rossi’s performance too, but could see the 38-year old was encountering those familiar traction issues. “He was as strong as ever, especially in the race,” he said. “There's not a lot to mention but he did a really good race. When I saw him at the front I thought, for sure, that he would win the race.

“If he's strong at the beginning I could imagine him being good at the end because no-one gets as strong as Valentino at the end of races. He started to drop his pace; he was spinning a lot. We both had the same problem so for sure we have to improve that on the bike.”

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vice versa of QATAR 2017...

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28 points in arrears and 4 races to go, Mav's got a big chance of being there in Velencia.

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