Maverick Viñales was left to rue a botched strategy that limited him to a deeply disappointing eleventh place in MotoGP qualifying for Le Mans, but set out his goals for Sunday, stating his aims are to secure a top three place.

As well as appearing as the man most likely to challenge Marc Marquez after an impressive Friday, the Catalan showed impressive speed throughout Saturday’s wet FP3, held in conditions that have so regularly caused him to struggle.

But the big mistake was to exit on dry tyres at the start of Q2 when conditions were too wet for slicks. By the time he returned to fit wets the rain had intensified further, and few riders could better their early times.

“The strategy we didn’t know to go out in the dry or wet,” he explained. “We chose two exits dry and we lost these two or three laps which was the window to do the best lap time. The time could have been much better than what I did in the last laps.”

The result was a fourth row start and any hopes of challenging pole sitter Marc Marquez in Sunday’s race are now severely diminished.

“The reason is the strategy,” said Viñales of his disappointing final result. “I think we made a big mistake with the strategy in Q2. But it happened, we paid for it so it makes no sense to start to get angry.

“The good thing is the feeling in the wet is there, and in dry is there. We have good rhythm. Our mission is to try and be on the podium. In the race we are going to try to push and see what we can achieve in Sunday’s race.

“Anyway the positive points are that in FP3 with rain and in FP4 I felt good all the time so that’s the most important. We need to give understanding, like how I arrived in FP3 and could be very competitive with wet tyres.

“For sure today there were positive things in the dry. The negative thing is that we will start from eleventh. Now I’m starting good. I think I have good rhythm in the dry and wet.”

On the challenges that await on race day and a fourth row start, Viñales added, “Also the spray that the bikes take out [will be a challenge]. It’s going to complicate a lot the race.

“The rhythm and everything we had was to go there into the first places and try to be on the top of the podium. But right now our mission is to try and be on the podium and be the first Yamaha. So tomorrow it’s time to push.

“Honestly, let’s see. I’m happy to have good potential in the rain and the dry. But I’m disappointed to be starting from eleventh. We could do much better than what we did in Q2.”

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