Movistar Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales goes into this weekend’s second round of the 2017 MotoGP world championship in the best possible position after a dominant win on his first outing on the bike last time out in Qatar – but there’s work to do on the other side of the garage for teammate Valentino Rossi after a slower start to 2017.
That’s the estimation of the pair ahead of this weekend’s Argentinian Grand Prix, with the Spaniard content with his progress on his new bike even if he isn’t expecting every weekend to be as easy as the first one was.
“After the amazing race in Qatar I'm super excited to be back on my M1 this weekend in Termas de Río Hondo. Now we have the difficult challenge to continue getting good results, Qatar was only the first race of 18. I can feel the pressure a little bit because the level of my rivals is very high, but that motivates me even more to keep working hard. We have to be cautious, work step by step and race by race.”
However, despite rallying back to a strong podium finish in third at the first round, teammate Valentino Rossi says that there’s much more work to do as he struggles to adapt to the 2017 machine – and the different spec Michelin tyres they’re mounted on.
“It wasn't an easy start to the championship. We have worked so hard during the test, but during the weekend of the first race we have fixed a few things, especially in the front. The race went very well and I was very happy to be able to get on the podium. Now we go to Argentina. This is a track that I like very much and I'm happy to go there. I hope that there are good asphalt conditions because last year it was difficult for us. We will try to work better and try to go once again on the podium!”
But while his two riders may well be in very different places going into the second round of the season, team boss Massimo Meregalli sounds content with their overall performance so far as the championship moves to South America.
The opening round in Qatar was a great start to the season. Though the championship is long, starting off on the right foot is crucial. Taking the victory and a double podium at the opening race after an ’unusual‘ weekend has boosted our confidence and made us anticipate the upcoming round at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit even more. It is a track where we can be strong. Though track conditions and grip level can be a little challenging, like we saw last year, the team has secured good results there in the past couple of races.
“We aim to hit the ground running when we start work on Friday, to continue the momentum we gained in round one. The deep-rooted passion for motorcycles and racing of the Argentine fans is an added factor that makes the Argentinian Grand Prix very special, so we are eager to repay their support by pushing all the way to the chequered flag."