Maverick Viñales was left frustrated by his lack of performance in Saturday afternoon’s MotoGP qualifying at Sepang, and called on his Movistar Yamaha team to “provide me with a bike for the wet.”

The 23-year was a distant eleventh in the delayed Q2 session, a colossal 2.6s off pole position. Viñales later stated he and his team had failed to “bring enough intelligence” to perfect the set-up for his M1 in wet weather conditions.

A lack of rear traction was his undoing in the afternoon, a sharp contrast to the fortunes of satellite Yamaha rider Johann Zarco and team-mate Valentino Rossi, who placed second and third respectively.

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All this was a contrast to how his day – and weekend – had gone before the rain arrived midway through FP4. Viñales was inside the top four in each free practice session, and running a pace similar to Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso.

“The bike is working so good in the dry right now,” he said. Should we have dry racing on Sunday, Viñales vowed to “go all in” – “I will go hard and fast as I was all the weekend.

“The problem was my set-up was not working well in the wet,” said Viñales. “I think the team needs to provide me with a better set-up, otherwise we are always like this, two seconds from the top. Normally I was really fast in the wet when the bike is working.

“They need to pay attention to what set-up we do in the rain because I cannot do nothing – just sliding, sliding the rear. In the dry we found a set-up. Now they have to find in the wet because also when I saw Jorge he changed the bike and he is on top in the wet. They need to provide me a better bike in the wet.

“It is because we didn’t bring enough intelligence to understand the set-up and find the way to ride in the wet because I always felt strong in the wet. All the time I opened the gas the bike didn’t go forward. I lost so much.

“Just if I had a little bit more grip on the rear maybe I could be on the second row and that would have been the most important thing for the race. But anyway after the practice I said, ‘OK, in Australia I was P10 on the first lap’ and then I made my way through.

“This track is a bit easier to overtake. We are pretty strong in the starts, I changed my way. So let’s see if I can do the best start of the season and I can win some places. FP4 went so good. I was so happy despite the crash for the wet.

“The bike was working so well. I think after three more laps I can hit some 59s and that’s awesome. The bike is working so good in the dry right now. As I said, the wet… This was not our result. We made a mistake with the set-up. Let’s see. I’m ready challenge tomorrow for the race.”

What if Sunday’s race is wet, as it was in Malaysia in 2016 and ’17? “In the rain? No, I’m not confident for sure,” he said. “I’ve not been competitive in two years with the Yamaha so I’m not confident. I will just go, try my best, come back with no injuries. We have a really important test after Valencia.”

It was an eventful day for Viñales. Lapping the track at speed during FP4, he was surprised to find rain falling at turn ten when the corner before had been dry. A quick fall was the result, thankfully without consequences.

“I didn’t see the yellow flags, I didn’t see the rain flags,” he explained of the spill. “I don’t know if there was a rain flag in corner nine, but I didn’t see it. After I just arrived to ten and I was completely banking (leant over) so I didn’t see nothing.

“When I started to think I just saw myself flying. When I saw my bike didn’t hit anyone, that was good. But for sure there is always something to improve on the track.

“This track is really difficult because maybe at that corner it’s raining but at corner nine it was not even raining. It’s always so difficult. Marshalls always do their best. If they can improve a little bit then it will be good.”

On Friday he was pleasantly surprised to see fast lap times coming even when not pushing. Was this the same during Saturday’s dry sessions?

“Yeah, I have it,” he said. “This morning, like yesterday, I made a mistake with the front tyres in the time attack. This morning I didn’t feel perfect with the front. With the medium I had another tenth to go down.

“I think the bike is working really good. I’m riding good on this track. it’s not usual because here I struggle quite a lot. But the bike permits me to go very precise everywhere, and that’s something that’s really good. That’s something I needed.

“I was working all the weekend on my lines, on my riding style, trying to be smooth in some areas to help the bike, and you see the improvement without doing nothing on the bike. That’s good.

“I did this step in Thailand after Aragon. I never rode [with it before] I just tried one time in Buriram [during February’s test] and my tyre was 20 laps [old]. I didn’t like it. But we try again in Buriram and I liked it, kept riding and it went well like this.

“Buriram, Phillip Island, here… three tracks, you know, cold, hot, hard brakes, not, and I’m there. P1, P2, P3 in all the practices and that’s the most important for me, to get all the consistency again.

“I’m really curious to see if we can work the same in Valencia. We’ll have to see the bike, but I feel we can go really fast in Valencia, as I was in 2016.”

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