On paper, the Valencia MotoGP weekend was an unmitigated disaster for Maverick Vinales.

Outside the top ten in every session apart from FP1, the Spaniard qualified 13th and then finished twelfth in the season-ending race.

But there was a major change on Saturday night when - like Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi - Vinales felt he had nothing to lose by switching to the 2016 M1 chassis, which Tech 3's Johann Zarco had used to qualify in second place.

Vinales felt instantly comfortable in warm-up, but the new-found confidence got the better of him. A heavy accident meant Vinales went into the race with almost zero set-up time on the change of frame.

"The feeling with the [2016] chassis was great," Vinales said. "Already in the first lap [of warm-up] I did a 1'32 low, then on the second lap I was already one second faster. Something I hadn't been able to do all weekend. So already I was feeling great, and maybe I pushed too early and too much for the feeling, because I was feeling good.

"In the race, I think we had some issues with the rear tyre. The feeling I had with the rear was that the tyre was not working well, a lot of vibration at the end of the race. So I didn't want to risk more than was necessary."

But that didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the new frame, after a frustrating end-of-season run that saw just a single podium from the last six rounds.

"I'm happy because the chassis was working really well this morning."

After a perfect pre-season and three wins from the opening five races, Vinales faded out of title contention as the rear-grip issues with the 2017 Yamaha left both Vinales and Rossi floundering on low-grip or wet circuits.

"Not only for me, but also for the team, it has been a really difficult season. Everyone wants to switch off and start a new one," Vinales said. "So we are going to try as a team, as rider, to recover good feelings in this [week's] test.

"I think it can be possible. I felt really great this morning with the 2016, even if I only did two laps, but I felt better than all the weekend."

Vinales is still at a loss to explain why he lost feeling with the M1 this season.

"I don't know. Also, I don't want to think about this season any more, I want to finish this season now, and try to start a new season and not make the same mistakes.

"Honestly, I don't want to think a lot, especially because the last races were quite difficult, quite crazy for us, so we want to finish those difficult times and start new ones.

"I know last year I came here and in two laps I did the lap time, so I'm going to try in the test to be the best that I can, try to make as many laps in a row, and try to find a good rhythm."

Which begs the question, did Vinales ask for this chassis change earlier in the year?

"I never really asked, because you try to improve with what you have," he replied. "But anyway, for sure for the future, we're going to understand very well other things, and try to not lose the way. Try to trust more my feelings and my riding style."

Rossi gave a more cautious assessment of the 2016 chassis, saying his fifth place was roughly what he would have done with the 2017 bike and that, while the feeling from the bike is better, rear tyre degradation was an issue.

The Valencia test takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday.


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