Valentino Rossi: Maverick Vinales reveals struggles behind protecting tempo with MotoGP legend

VALENTINO ROSSI significantly outperformed his Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales at the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday.

Vinales secured pole position with a blistering display in qualifying, but the 24-year-old struggled in the race itself.

Valentino Rossi, 16 years Vinales’ senior, started a lowly 14th but overtook nine bikes in a scintillating ride to finish fifth.

After the opening race of the new season, the Doctor questioned whether Yamaha’s YZR-M1 had shown any tangible signs of improvement.

But Vinales admitted he had destroyed his tires by trying to overtake too aggressively, after a poor first lap left him trapped within the pack.

“Well, for sure I know the race went really difficult,” the Spanish rider said. “Even when I finished the warm-up, because we know our weak points.

“Somehow alone I can make the lap time, then when I am in the group, it’s really difficult.

“I have to ride completely differently. I have to ride different lines, and I cannot be as fast as when I’m alone.”

Vinales’ comments come after an eventful opening race which also saw some big stories come about, including:

– Valentino Rossi fans ROAST Yamaha after MotoGP opener – ‘Switch manufacturer’

– Did you see MotoGP star Jack Miller rip off his SEAT during Qatar race?

– Andrea Dovizioso brands MotoGP rival ‘EMBARRASSING’ after Qatar opener

“So now we have another point of work, and after this race, we know more what to improve on the bike.

“We’re fine. Just trying to overtake many riders destroyed the tyres, and at the end, I was without grip on the rear tyre, so I couldn’t do any better.”

Vinales finished in seventh place, almost two-and-a-half seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati.

He hinted at a lack of top end power but stated that he knows he will have to alter his tactics in future Grands Prix to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s struggle.

He added: “Whatever the problem is with being with other riders – apart from a lack of top speed, but this was not the main problem – it’s that I have to ride very different to the way I ride when I’m alone.

“So now we have to work to try to find a set up to battle with the others.

“Going behind the others, I needed to make really stop-and-go lines, like they do, and I stressed the tire a lot, trying to make something to overtake, trying to make something happen.

“But finally I started to ride fast when I was alone, so I understand very well the problem.”

The MotoGP calendar sees the riders given a three-week break ahead of the Argentinian Grand Prix on March 31.