Maverick Viñales admitted he was extremely fortunate to avoid a hefty crash on Friday afternoon at Sepang, after a close call with fellow Spaniard Hector Barbera left him with a bent clutch lever and forced a return to pit lane.

The Movistar Yamaha man was tipping into Sepang’s final corner in MotoGP FP2 when Barbera lost the front of his Ducati GP16. The Avintia Ducati man careered up Viñales’ inside, tagging his handlebar in the process.

“I really don’t know what happened,” said Viñales. “Honestly I was trying to do the corner and just saw one bike coming straight. I said, ‘Woahhh!’ I pick up the bike. Luckily we didn’t hit each other. If not it would have been much worse. Anyway, I really don’t understand. I don’t know [what happened] because I didn’t check on the TV. I cannot comment. For sure, it’s not a problem.”

The moment came early into the wet afternoon session, when it took the 22-year old some time to come up to speed. Morning warm-up at Phillip Island felt like a breakthrough in his recent wet weather struggles, and FP2 at Sepang confirmed progress had been made.

Viñales ended the afternoon a promising fourth overall, 1.2s off pace setter Andrea Dovizioso’s fastest time, and two places ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi.

“The progress continued,” said Viñales, currently third in the championship. “Still we need to improve in some other areas because until now the tyres we have here are hard compounds in the wet so it’s very slippery.

“We needed to improve in Australia. We took third and I felt much better with the bike, especially with the front. All the confidence going into the corners is much better than before so I felt good in the rain. Now we just need to make another step and try and improve.”

So where can he make that next step? “Well, especially the first touch of gas with full banking, I have to improve there because I didn’t feel so good, so confident in that point. But I think it’s because here there are more hard compounds than in Australia. That’s the difference but I think we can solve it during the weekend.”

Rumours on the variations of spec of Viñales current chassis abounded at Phillip Island as he sought to improve those persistent rear traction and wet weather issues. Valentino Rossi let slip that his and Viñales’ bikes had a small difference last Saturday.

Asked whether he was using different parts to his team-mate, Viñales remained tight-lipped, “Well, honestly I don’t know the set-up that Valentino had. We are trying to focus on our riding style. We know which area we have to improve. Since Australia it’s the entry of the corners. This weekend we’re focusing a lot on our riding style, trying to improve that area.”


Loading Comments...