Maverick Vinales feels he could “easily ride” at the same pace of the front-runners at the Americas MotoGP despite his race being wrecked by a ride-through penalty for a jump start.

Vinales, along with Suzuki’s Joan Mir, were slapped with a ride-through penalty for jumping the start at the Circuit of the Americas – reigniting the penalty debate following Cal Crutchlow’s jump start from Argentina – leaving the Monster Yamaha rider effectively out of the podium fight.

While the Spanish rider accepts his punishment for jumping the start, he felt confident his race pace could match both team-mate Valentino Rossi and Alex Rins on the Suzuki who claimed his maiden premier class win.

Despite his mid-race pit lane reroute, plus an unnecessary trip through the Long Lap penalty lane, Vinales produced five laps inside the 2m 04s bracket which was only bettered by Rins (eight) and Rossi (seven) plus early leader Marc Marquez (seven) before his crash.

“We showed a really good race pace and after the ride through I could easily ride in the 2'04s. This is just the way it is,” Vinales said. “We will have to try again in Jerez and be stronger there.

“The good thing was that the bike was working really well. We had a good set-up for the race.”

Yamaha MotoGP team manager Massimo Meregalli has echoed Vinales and remains optimistic a breakthrough has been found which can be confirmed at the next round at Jerez.

“After his jump start, Maverick lost a lot of time because of the ride through and the unnecessary long-lap lane,” Meregalli said. “We can tell from his pace at the end of the race that he could have been a strong contender.

“In the end there are some learning points after this experience, but I think one major positive that we can take away from this weekend is the overall bike performance. We’ve made another step and are looking forward to confirm the improvements at the next round in Jerez.”

Vinales, who has struggled with his race starts on the factory Yamaha, has been enduring clutch engagement issues but felt he’d made progress at COTA in his practice starts before the race.

“I made a mistake at the start. I was starting really well all weekend, I tried to do the same, but on the grid the bike got a bit hotter and the clutch engaged and the bike started running,” he explained. “It’s a shame, because I felt really good during the race. I already knew there was a chance that I would get a penalty.

“We need to keep working and find the best system for the start. The start was actually good, as in that I didn’t lose any positions, and I tried to overtake some riders. Let’s see what happens at the next races.”



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