Maverick Vinales says his podium at the Spanish MotoGP has restored his self-confidence after a shaky start to the 2019 campaign, while he holds optimism in the improvements his Monster Yamaha squad has uncovered from the post-race Jerez test.

The Spaniard returned to the MotoGP podium for the first time since winning in Australia last year with his third-place finish at Jerez where he felt a stronger start enabled him to bolt clear of any early race troubles which have hurt his recent races.

Coupled with Fabio Quartararo suffering a cruel retirement with a broken quickshifter on his Petronas Yamaha, Vinales held off late attacks from both Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci for his maiden podium at Jerez in the premier class.

While Vinales has impressed over a single lap this year, his early race pace has failed to match his front-running places gained from qualifying, which has often seen him drop down the order in the opening laps.

Vinales feels he was able to display his full potential for the first time this season at Jerez, having also been taken out by Franco Morbidelli in Argentina and suffering a jump start ride through penalty in the United States, and is hopeful of carrying the confidence into the French round this weekend where he won from pole position back in 2017.

“For us it was really important to go into a weekend taking out our potential, especially in the first laps, going well which was the most important thing,” Vinales said. “Because for us we paid a lot of seconds in Qatar, Argentina and Austin – in Austin I got the ride through. So we could not show our potential yet so I think in Jerez the result for us was very important.

“It brought a lot of confidence inside the team and that is what we needed. We need to keep working and to try to understand the way to go.

“The main objective is to be on the podium, fighting for the top places, in the race and then on Saturday fight for the front row, which for Jerez I think was very important because the other three Yamahas were very fast on Saturday, so we need to work and find a way to go faster with this bike.”

Vinales cast a downbeat figure immediately after the post-Spanish round test at Jerez last week, but during the Le Mans pre-event press conference he appeared encouraged after time to digest Yamaha’s gains.

While Vinales and team-mate Valentino Rossi remain eager for a clear breakthrough with Yamaha’s traction under acceleration problem, the Spanish rider says smaller gains in “all areas” were found including his riding style on the YZR-M1.

“We improved a lot at the test so I am really pleased. Let’s see how we get on in Le Mans,” he said. “The idea was to improve a little bit in all areas. We need a little bit more in braking, acceleration, corner speed. So the main idea was to improve a little bit everything.

“Also the riding style with the bike. So that was positive. For me it was good to gain even more confidence to come into Le Mans with a lot of motivation. The main improvement was just a little in all the situations.”

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