After missing out on pole position for the Malaysian MotoGP to Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales concedes he needs to find improvements in his own qualifying performances against the rookie rider but remains confident with his race pace at Sepang.

The Monster Yamaha rider held provisional pole position thanks to his final lap in Q2 only see to the satellite Yamaha rider delight his team ahead of its home debut in the premier class by bolting to pole by over one-tenth of a second faster than the Spanish rider.

Vinales isn’t too downbeat having demonstrated impressive race pace throughout practice and is tipped to be the fastest rider going into the Malaysian GP, as he looks to make amends for his final-lap crash while fighting for victory against Marc Marquez at Phillip Island last weekend.

“I am really happy as I started the weekend with a lot of confidence on the bike. This morning I felt really good on a race setup which means we have the possibility to fight at least for the victory until the end because I felt great on the bike with many, many laps,” Vinales said.

“Then in qualifying it is always very difficult. We tried our best to do one perfect lap. It was a good lap and we need to keep working on the one lap as we can improve. Anyway, I am very happy and excited about tomorrow’s race.

“In Phillip Island I didn’t start really good but somehow I found the way to take the lead and push so here I will try to start in a good way and try to be on the first places at the beginning of the race and then we will see how we can manage the tyres.”

Vinales predicts another busy front-running group as seen at Phillip Island, as he expects himself and five other riders to be in contention for victory at Sepang including the Petronas Yamaha duo of Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli.

The trio form Yamaha’s first front-row qualifying lockout since Vinales achieved the feat with Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco at Le Mans in 2017.

“I think the first corner is quite long so Miller, Dovizioso, Marc [Marquez] and Rins can attack from the first lap so we will see,” he said.

Vinales remains in the hunt for third place in the 2019 MotoGP riders’ standings with the Spanish rider currently in fourth place and just seven points behind Suzuki’s Alex Rins.