Maverick Vinales has conceded a conservative target if the 2018 Valencia MotoGP is hit by the forecasted rain tomorrow despite starting from pole position for Movistar Yamaha.

Vinales claimed his first pole since last year’s Aragon round by storming through Q1 and taking top spot in the top 12 shootout which acted as the only fully-dry track sessions MotoGP has completed in a rain-hit final round.

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The Movistar Yamaha rider, who called on his team to find a wet-weather set-up which suits him after struggling in the rain in Malaysia, feels given his practice pace in the wet he can only target the top seven unless key breakthroughs are found overnight and demonstrated in the wet warm-up session. Vinales ended the combined practice times, all held in wet conditions, in 11th place. 

“Our target is trying to be in the top seven. I will try my best,” Vinales said. “Being in the top seven will be great. In the practice we have never been that strong in the wet so we have a lot to improve for tomorrow but let’s see.

“I’ve never started at the front in a rain race so let’s see if we can improve following the top riders.

“Luckily in Q1 I could improve a little bit on the bike [in the dry] and after Q2 I just gave my best. Being here on pole today is really special because last year this track for me was one of the worst on the calendar. Already today I could ride at my best and I feel great.

“I am going to try my best tomorrow in the race and say thank you to the team as in 10 minutes they changed all of the bike and they were so fast, more than me on track, so congratulations to the team as they worked really good today.”

Having spoken of aiming for a completely fresh start with the factory Yamaha squad in 2019, Vinales feels his pole in Valencia coupled with victory in Phillip Island - which ended the Japanese factory’s 25-winless race run - acts as proof “I can be the rider for next year” as he aims to push the development direction to his style.

Vinales will have a new crew chief, rider coach and even a new race number for 2019 switching from his familiar 25 to 12.

“I will try to give my best and honestly I changed to number 12 because I felt it was the right time,” he said. “So let’s see as I am quite curious to see about next year.

“At least this year, finally, we made one victory and one pole so it is really important to prove to Yamaha that I can be the rider for next year.”

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