• 14th November, 2019


“Now we are competitive, but for being able to fight every race for the victory we have to take a bigger step”. 

“My main objective right now is trying to build up a bike that allows me to fight for the races in 2020, independently of long straights, short straights, rain, no rain…”

 “My transfer to Qatar is part of my determination to take a step forward physically and mentally. At the Qatar Motorsports Academy facilities, I can train every day while the snow covers Andorra”

Next weekend, the 2019 MotoGP season will come to an end at the Valencia Grand Prix and with the first and second place of the championship already decided, the excitement is focused on the third place.

MotoGP Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales is third in the standings being the only Yamaha rider to win GPs in the last two seasons. The second part of the season has been very positive for him and he has taken a step forward showing that he is a much more mature rider.

Since September, Viñales has moved his residence to Qatar where he is training at the Qatar Motorsports Academy and working with the specialists of Aspire Academy.

International Media have published a recent interview done by the journalist Lee Meng Fei after the Malaysian GP, where Maverick won the race.

From Losail Circuit Sports Club and Qatar Motorsports Academy, we are very proud and satisfied to help him to achieve his goals and achieve his dream: to became one day a MotoGP World Champion.  We will continue to support him in everything that is on our hands, professional and personal side.


You arrived at the last race 3rd in the championship, having won two races and what is I think more important, having had quite a positive second half of the season. How do you evaluate your year? 

Well, I have to say that I’m very satisfied. This year is ending in a very different way than the previous two years, when we started the season very good, at a really good level, and then slowly the level we had decreased as the season progressed. But this year is totally opposite. After race six or seven GPs, we only go up, go up, and go up. So actually I feel really good with the bike and inside the team. I’m really calm. Right now I’m working, I think, in the best way I can work. I can feel that I’m quite satisfied about this season.


Your biggest weakness has been your race starts. It now seems you have been able to overcome this problem. How has this happened? What have you done? Yes, it has been a problem, a frustrating problem I have to say. We have worked and are working very intensively in this area. Until seven races ago I was using a different clutch from those of the other Yamaha riders; I was the only one. We decided to change and I have improved a lot the start… Well, at least I don’t lose positions any more! [Smile]

But now we have to make another step, because our competitors have on their bikes a launch control system. One is using like the one that is used in motocross, other ones operate on the rear suspension… So we have to take a step forward for next year. I think Yamaha is working very hard on that because it’s very important… A good start is half the race. Meanwhile we have been working on the way to improve the second part of the start and I guess it didn’t work that bad in Sepang…


Your performance got more stable after the summer break. You have declared in different interviews it has been a consequence of the bike’s improvement. What are exactly the reasons that you gained your competitiveness?

I think the biggest reason is that we touch nothing on the bike. We try new parts, of course because we are a factory team, but finally we always keep the same base setup. OK, depending on the circuit we use softer springs, harder springs, more oil, less oil, but on Sundays I’m racing with a very similar bike. This means I get used to this bike, I know how it works and its reactions and this allows me to ride well in all the tracks. I know the way to ride the bike; I know where my bike is strong, where are its weak points. So, race by race I’m growing because I understand better the bike…. I think the biggest improvement we did is to go with the same bike race by race.


Fabio Quartararo is in all betting games the hot candidate for one of the 2021’s Yamaha factory seat. Do you think he is the biggest threat for you?

Honestly I’m not even thinking about  2021. I’m thinking now about  finishing this season and about the next year. I think that for next year we have a very good opportunity with Yamaha. We have to work in the right way this winter and in the preseason and then we have to start next season at the maximum level to fight for the victories from race one. That’s the target. That’s our job: to create a good bike during the pre-season.


The rider’s market will move very soon, more than probably early next year. So this means thinking about 2021 at the start of 2020. Don’t you think it’s too soon? What is your main concern in making a decision? Do you expect to stay in Yamaha or could happen it that you leave Yamaha?

I have to say that I feel really good inside the team, so at the moment my thinking is to be focused very hard on 2020 because I feel that I have a very good opportunity. My main objective right now is trying to build up a bike that allows me to fight for the races in 2020, independently of long straights, short straights, rain, no rain… I want a bike that permits me push from the first race in Qatar.

About the market, honestly I’m not worried and I don’t think about it. Some years this story with the market starts early, other years later. It depends on what the competitors do.


What kind of improvement do you expect on the 2020 M1?

I don’t know. Until I try it I cannot tell you anything. For sure we know that our weak point is the top speed and the slow corners. So we need to make an improvement there. But the actual bike is working not so badly. I’m actually quite happy with the result we are having now. But as I said, for being able to fight every race for the victory we have to take a bigger step.


So do you expect an improvement in top speed?

Yeah, I expect it. I think Yamaha knows very clearly our weak point and for sure they will work very hard.


I’m curious… I have read that you have moved to Qatar. Why? It looks strange?

Well, in this moment for me it was very important to find a good situation for myself.


What do you mean?

I believe that at this point I have to take a step forward physically and mentally. During the celebration of the Qatar GP at the beginning of the season I saw the facilities of the Qatar Motorsports Academy and I was impressed. I spoke with the responsible of the circuit and they open the door for me to use these facilities anytime I wanted. I thought about the opportunity of being able to ride bikes normally in winter when in Europe we mostly have to train indoors, so I decided to move to Doha when Andorra is covered by the snow.

I have already gotten everything organized and I have been able to train with the Qatar Motorsports Academy coaches and I have to say that it’s unbelievably good. Also there are very experienced riders who also can help you. Most of them are ex-GP riders, which means they go fast, and I need riders that push me. If we overtake each other and we take ourselves  down, we are very friendly. We don’t have any problem. That’s important. Because, at the end at the GPs you do the same. It’s with other bikes, but it is the same competitiveness. So that’s the important point. It’s very good for me.


You mean they can teach you?!… This sounds strange to me, because I don’t know who are these riders, but for sure they have not the riding level you have now. 

We are not perfect. We have to improve every day. Every day, every lap, you have to make an improvement in this world. So for me being inside the Qatar Motorsports Academy means improving, improving, improving… Every day. That’s my target.

We are also working with Aspire. It’s a highly technological training academy that has incredible facilities and world-top professionals working there. I think there I can take another of these steps I have told you during this interview. In this case the steps are physically and mentally.


Can you give more details about this Aspire Academy?

We have just started to develop the program for motorcycle riders. In this moment they are investigating to find the exercises that will help me to be better on the bike. This is very important because there is in not any  sport that equals the characteristic  of riding a bike. So I think that at Aspire I will have the chance to work in a very specific training program related to what we do when we ride a MotoGP bike.

Where I have already noticed the work we have been doing with Aspire is on the mental side. They are very good in this area. To stay mentality focused is very important.


In which way have you mentally improved?

I’m now capable of staying calm when we are going through tough moments, for example. The kind of advices  that will help to improve my life…  Not only in racing life, also in private life.


By Lee Meng Fei