Maverick Vinales was relieved to return to the MotoGP rostrum at Phillip Island following a difficult period for the Movistar Yamaha rider.

Vinales dropped out of the title frame at Motegi after struggling with traction issues on the M1 in the wet, losing ground in the championship as he ended the race in ninth place.

The young Spaniard led in Australia but had to fight his way back after an incident with Andrea Iannone, with contact made between the pair.

“The plan was to push and with five laps to go, I was preparing myself when I overtake Johann [Zarco] and I think I was able to overtake well and I had a really strong braking point in turn 4, which was our strongest point,” Vinales said.

“But I had some contact with Andrea and I went back to the back of the group and then I needed some laps to recover, to overtake Jack [Miller] and Cal [Crutchlow], but anyway I am happy we make ourselves on the podium because it’s been really tough in the last races. It’s the first race in the second part of the season that I feel really strong, so that is good for us.”

Elaborating on the contact with Iannone, Vinales shrugged off the clash, suggesting it was merely a racing incident.

“The contact was quite hard and I didn’t expect to make the corner. The race is like this and this is racing. I’m happy that we recovered quite good and we pushed our bike at 100 per-cent and finally we made the podium.”

The 22-year-old made huge strides forward with the Yamaha in the wet at Phillip Island and was second fastest in morning warm-up behind race winner Marc Marquez. The circuit later dried out and the race was held in the dry, but Vinales says the breakthrough will prove invaluable.

“I think in the morning we understand the way to go in the wet and that is something that is really positive,” he said.

“I learned to ride in just 10 minutes in the wet. I did the same on Saturday morning in Japan – the bike was working better and I feel much better with the tyres, so I could push a little bit more. I’m happy that we found a way because in Malaysia there is a lot of possibility for rain, so we feel positive.”

The traction problems that have hindered Vinales were not so apparent in Australia and the factory Yamaha rider confirmed his team made significant improvements to the M1, which allowed him to challenge for the podium.

“We improved a lot the traction and I did the podium because of this, and if not then I would be out of the podium. I was even able, maybe, to overtake Vale but he pushed and I saw Vale like this, so I say no, not this time – next one!” said Vinales.

“It’s really important to save the tyres to the end and this track, the left side of the tyre is very important, especially in sector four. If you don’t save the tyre, then you don’t have traction and it is very difficult to fight until the end.

“The lap times on Friday were much faster because we went easily to the ’29s, so maybe the track was not in the best condition. In a group race it is so difficult because you prepare a good line and then you have someone that tries to overtake. It was a good race and we didn’t do the best lap times we can do but it was quite fun.”


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