Maverick Viñales labeled the three-day MotoGP test in Thailand as the worst he has experienced since moving to Yamaha at the close of 2016, as the Catalan toiled once more on the final day, leaving him perplexed, dazed and in need of answers.

Any optimism that was founded late on Saturday afternoon soon made way for further frustration, with Viñales unable to offer up any explanation for his lack of speed. What should be the run up to a title challenge is quickly turning into a series of outings to forget.

The 23-year old’s speed was far from disastrous – he ended the three days eighth overall, 0.493s back of pace setter Dani Pedrosa – but the warnings that sounded two weeks ago at Sepang were ringing loud and clear here.

Viñales was unable to feel comfortable at any point other than late into the second day when the fitting of a new tyre brought about some temporary respite from the toil. His pace on Sunday was, in his own words “horrible” and with less than a month until the first race, Yamaha faces a fight against time to uncover the root of this long-standing issue.

On Sunday afternoon, Viñales even admitted he had been trying the 2016 chassis - used by Johann Zarco, second fastest and one of only three riders to lap the 2.8-mile Chang International Circuit in the 1m 29s - to understand the nature of the Frenchman’s speed aboard a satellite machine.

Like the second half of 2017, the ex-Moto3 world champion was left dejected and shrugging his shoulders. “We are working on our side, and we have the same problems from six months ago,” he said. “So honestly, I don't know.”

“Today we were struggling much more than yesterday,” said Viñales. “I thought we had the solution, but finally not. So we have to continue working, as I said always. I have been saying for a long time we have to continue trying to find out where the problem is.

“Honestly I don't know [what the problem is], because we tried everything, and nothing works, so we have to continue working. It's difficult right now, it's a difficult point, because some other Yamahas are working quite well, and we are struggling as a factory team, so I don't know. I don't know what to say. It's difficult.”

Asked what in particular was so lacking in performance, Viñales couldn’t pinpoint any area in particular. “All areas," he said. "We are missing a little bit in all areas. But what we do is try to do laps, and just be objective and give an explanation every time I try a new setup.”

Would he consider this his worst outing as a Yamaha rider? “For me, yes,” came the terse reply. “By a long way it's the worst. Even Malaysia, for me that was the worst one [since] I've been in Yamaha, and then today it's even worse.”

The truly confusing manner of the factory team's struggles stems from the continually differing feedback offered up by its riders. On Friday Viñales explained how he struggled to enter the corner as he wanted, while Rossi felt the electronics package was at fault.

A day later and Viñales said Yamaha’s 2018 engine was too docile for his style when in conversation with the Spanish media, and Rossi used Sunday’s debrief to add a new thought to the list: tyres, and the M1’s vicious reaction to them.

From a distance, it appeared the riders and technicians were at as much of a loss to explain the whole affair as the observers looking in.

On Saturday, Viñales had sounded defiant, claiming he needed to “follow my own feelings and my own set-up. That’s when I feel good” – words that suggest he has been frustrated by development and set-up direction over the off-season.

Asked whether he aimed to continue this tactic at the next test in Qatar less than two weeks away, he said, “Yes, for sure! For sure we will continue. But I don't think the problem is in the garage, it's something more. Because we tried everything on the bike - everything. Set-ups that last year we were never going to try, because it was impossible for them to work.

“Honestly, Yamaha has to work, has to realise we have a problem, and have to put the work. As a rider, physically I'm 100%, I'm concentrated, when the bike is there, I can do a good lap, good rhythm, I just give my best every time I go on the track.”

So what has he requested from the factory? “My request is to have the bike I rode the first time I rode the Yamaha,” he said. “To have this feeling. I just jumped on the Yamaha, and it was a totally different feeling to right now.”


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