Maverick Vinales left the Valencia MotoGP Test sure that he prefers the 2016 Yamaha chassis, at least at the Spanish circuit.

Yet, in a year of countless chassis changes for the factory team, even that judgement came with a caveat:

Vinales, who had been fastest on day one, lapped 0.451s slower for fifth place on day two. And wasn't sure why.

"We lost 0.4 lap time. Same bike. Something still we don't understand," Vinales said. "They have to work and we have to decide which chassis, or which way to take for 2018. You have to be very clear and sure about the decision."

That decision will basically boil down to whether Yamaha should try and improve acceleration on the 2016 or feel with the 2017.

"The 2017 I had better traction, better acceleration. And with the 2016 I feel better with the front. It is what I was feeling all year," Vinales explained.

"Finally let's see if we take the 2016 and work to make the acceleration good or we get the 2017 and try to make, especially the braking area and corner speed better.

"The 2016 is better for corner speed. I feel more turning and it's easier for me. Let's see. We have to decide which way is the easiest to be fast."

When it was pointed out that Johann Zarco feels rear grip is the weak point of the 2017 chassis he has been using at the Valencia Test - although exactly which spec of 2017 chassis is unclear - Vinales responded:

"There are different riding styles and riders have different feelings on the bike, so it's difficult to compare."

And what if Vinales and team-mate Valentino Rossi want to go in different directions with the 2018 M1?

"It's difficult [if] we take different ways. What I said, I'm going to try to take my own way and to have the best for my riding style. Let's see if in Malaysia we can confirm more things and we can be even better than here.

"The first day here was not so bad, I was quite happy and feeling good. Today was a totally different day. So it's difficult to take a decision right now. But it's true that for my riding style the bike I had last year, in this test, felt great. Let's see if in Malaysia we can have two good days."

Given Movistar Yamaha's rain woes this season, Vinales is also hoping for at least one day of bad weather during their private Sepang test, just before the December 1 test ban.

"I hope it rains at least one full day. That would be perfect for us to try a lot the bike, try the electronics and the new engine in the wet.

"In Sepang I will start as I ended the grand prix [last month], because I felt quite good in qualifying. So it's a good point of reference. And then I will try the same as here at Valencia; both bikes [2016 and 2017], different engines [2017 and 2018] and see how it works there. Maybe Sepang is a better test track than Valencia."

Vinales and Rossi are also likely to put in more laps with Yamaha's aggressive new downforce fairing.

"It feels really good. Here in Valencia we know for sure the fairing is much better," he declared.

Technical Director Danny Aldridge has indicated changes will be needed before he allows the design to be used in a grand prix, but Vinales brushed aside any concerns.

"Aprilia is doing the same! And Ducati. I don't think it's illegal."

And finally, after winning three of the opening five races, did Vinales ever imagine he would finish the season in this way, with confusion over the chassis?


After leading the early stages of the world championship, Vinales slipped back to third place by the end of his first Yamaha season, 68 points from Honda's Marc Marquez.


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