Maverick Viñales has aims of challenging Andrea Dovizioso for second place in Sunday’s MotoGP outing in Austria, but admits he is unsure of where he can overtake in light of Yamaha’s continued top speed limitations.

The 24-year old was “really happy” to qualify fourth and believes his performance in FP4 demonstrated he can fight for the podium. Viñales is, however, wary of the opening to the race with several Hondas and Ducatis starting just behind.

Rather than aggressively overtake riders ahead, Viñales said he may have to simply “wish in some corners they [riders ahead] make a mistake [so] I can go inside” – a tactic that may rely on considerable good fortune.

“Honestly I’m really happy because the way we’ve worked in this weekend was a good way. We tried to improve the rhythm. Finally in FP4 it was great. With a 20-lap tyre I can be close to Dovi, which I think is the target – to be with Dovi.

“In qualifying I took the maximum from the bike. I think we still have to improve the bike, the grip. We will see. For sure our main competitors on the main straight are much faster, especially from stop-and-go. There we lose a lot.”

So where can he potentially overtake any riders that are ahead? “I don’t know,” he smiled. “I really don’t know! I can close the gap but I really can’t overtake. Just wishing in some corners they make a mistake I can go inside.

“It’s going to be very, very tricky. Maybe in sector four I can overtake there. We are pretty strong there. So I think it’s maybe the only point where we can overtake. We will see.

“Anyway the race can be different. You never know in the race. We will try to be there from the first lap. The rhythm is there, it’s good. I can maintain 1m 24 medium, low until the end so that’s a good pace.”

Does he feel anyone can challenge pole sitter Marc Marquez? “I don’t know,” he said. “At the moment he’s half a second ahead of everyone. He’s riding really good. I’m going to try to make our race, start fast, be in the first three on the first lap and then we will see.

“It’s going to be really difficult. I was in FP4 with many riders. It’s very difficult to overtake and I lose so much on the straight. We will see. We worked pretty well from FP1. We will see if we gain everything that we worked on this weekend in the race. It will be a difficult race for sure, but we will try our best.”

On what he believes will be the key to the race, Viñales added, “Actually I think the first corner, we have to deal with it really good. With the slipstream it’s going to be a bit easier. A bit easier.

“But I don’t know, really. I will try to close all the door, every lap and be on the podium at the end of every race. It’s true, we are quite strong in sector three and four. Also in sector two, which is not bad. We will see. Honestly I’m curious to see what we can do here.”



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