Maverick Vinales says he’s switched his racing number to #12 next season as part of his fresh start with Movistar Yamaha after “the worst two years”.

The Spanish rider created a surprise when the 2019 MotoGP entry lists were officially published during Friday practice at the Valencia round which revealed he would drop his familiar #25 number to take up #12.

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Vinales has spent his entire Grand Prix career running the #25 plate but explained the #12, which will be vacated when Thomas Luthi leaves MotoGP at the end of this season, was a number he used during his junior career and wants it to represent a new era.

“When I was just a kid, I was riding with 12 always, I went between 12 and 100, because 100 when I was in motocross, but number 12 [was the one],” Vinales said. “It has been many years that I wanted to change but I never found the way to do it. But now I felt I need to do something different.

“Next year there is going to be a new engine, new crew chief, new everything so it was the time to change, new Maverick. So let’s see if I can be more grateful than now.

“The 25 was because I like one motocross rider and I jumped to one category where the 12 was taken so I put the 25. But maybe if in that category the 25 was not taken I was with 12 but I felt it was the moment to change.

“It was the two worst years for me in the world championship so I want to change everything. I just try to go back when I was so good.”

After struggling in the wet qualifying at Sepang last time out, Vinales called on Yamaha to “find a better set-up” having failed to find stable settings on the factory Yamaha.

Vinales says his opening run at the wet Valencia, with both Friday practice sessions held in rainy conditions, was “a nightmare” but gradually set-up changes produced confidence-boosting gains.

“The first ten minutes of FP1 was like a nightmare, I could not even stay on the bike but we improved quite a lot in the wet,” he said. “I am actually really happy that the bike is working better and I feel we can still do another great step forward.

“So let’s see if tomorrow I can ride faster but I feel good in the wet and that’s something really important.

“Regarding the seat, I only have two seats so I need to reserve for the race just in case I crash, I jump in different seats, not to try, just to save it for the race.”

Vinales goes into the 2018 MotoGP finale battling team-mate Valentino Rossi for third place in the riders’ championship. Rossi leads by two points heading into the Valencia race.

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