Valentino Rossi has tipped Suzuki rider Maverick Viñales as a 2016 MotoGP race winner, after both seeing the young Spaniard’s testing pace and witnessing first hand last night, after following him for a number of laps during free practice.
Rossi has been a long-time fan of Viñales, repeatedly tipping the 21 year old for greatness. But with significant improvements to the Suzuki during the winter, Rossi says he’s now ready to win races.
“When I followed Maverick, I thought he rode very well. He has very good lines, and a good way to use a MotoGP bike. I think he’ll be one of the riders who can win this year. He has a great talent, he is young – too young! – and also the bike is improving. I think he can stay with us in the race.”
The Italian was left content with his first night of practice, however, coming away with a faster lap time than in last week’s test and overall pleased with his progress.
“The first practice was positive. I‘m quite satisfied, it was a strong way to start the season, because the second position is good and also the lap times are already not so bad. They're in the 1‘55s and the pace is quite good. We start working from what we did in the test.
“This means that we did a good job during pre-season and we begin with a good base, but now we have to keep focus. The condition of the track changes a lot session by session and together with the team we have to deliver good work so we will be ready when the grip becomes better. I‘ll try to improve the feeling and also try to make the right decision for the tyres.”