Maverick Viñales has admitted that he knows he can be ‘very strong’ at this weekend’s American round of the 2017 MotoGP world championship at Texas’ Circuit of the Americas as he looks to maintain the momentum that’s carried him t two wins out of two so far this season.
And despite the track being the favoured stomping ground of Marc Marquez and his Honda RC213V since the class first went to the new circuit in 2013, he says he’s looking forward to seeing what the combination of his riding style and his Yamaha M1 machine are capable of at the Austin track.
“The next round is Austin and I'm happy because I won my first race there in Moto2, I've always been very strong here. I also did one of my best results in America the last year, so I think its a good track for my riding style. I love the up and down track, with lots of elevation, so I'm so excited to see how my M1 will work here and how I'm going to feel riding the Yamaha. I'm confident and I know that I can do another good race weekend.”
Viñales’ greatest obstacle this weekend might not be riding style but bike, as he approaches the weekend not on his sweet-handling Suzuki of last year but on a Yamaha that’s lower, slower to turn and much more suited to Lorenzo and teammate Valentino Rossi, the men who developed the bike to suit them over the best part of a decade.
But that hasn’t been much of a hindrance to him yet, and it could well set us up for an epic showdown this weekend if he can find the pace to run with Marquez. Dominate as he might have in the opening two races of the season, the sword of Damocles still hangs above Viñales’ head – and will continue to do so until he gets the chance to engage his old sparring partner of childhood days in one-on-one combat.
He’ll be just as keen as we are to see that battle unfold and find the measure of Marquez for the first time since their days in the Spanish championship as kids – and with it win a victory more important than just the 25 points that are up for grabs.
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