MAR­QUEZ v VINALES

Mav­er­ick goes on the at­tack af­ter pair clash,

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MOTOGP REPORTER IN PHILLIP IS­LAND si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Ten­sions are al­ready start­ing to build be­tween 2017 Motogp cham­pi­onship favourites Mav­er­ick Vi– ales and reign­ing cham­pion Marc Mar­quez ahead of the start of the sea­son next month. The two men topped the timesheets at the end of the three­day Phillip Is­land test, but not be­fore the duo clashed on track.

Com­plet­ing the three days of test­ing first and sec­ond re­spec­tively, Vi–ales hit out at his fel­low Spa­niard on the fi­nal day af­ter they came to­gether on track.

Dur­ing his end-of-day planned race runs, Mar­quez latched onto the back of the Mo­vis­tar Yamaha rider, re­sult­ing in on-track ac­tion that looked more like a race than a test as they traded a series of overly ag­gres­sive over­takes.

A gen­uinely be­mused Vi–ales said: “I don’t know what to say. I donõt want to make some­thing when there is noth­ing, but for sure this is not nor­mal. When youõre do­ing a race sim­u­la­tion and some­one catches up with you, you canõt do any­thing, and fi­nally I had to abort it. The track is 4.4km long and it was very strange that he started where I was!”

Vi–ales may only be 22 and rel­a­tively new to the Motogp class, but he took Mar­quez’s on-track an­tics as a challenge Ð one that could back­fire on Mar­quez if the Yamaha man uses the odd an­tics as ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion to win. Some­thing he showed by post­ing con­sec­u­tive 1m 28s laps in the dy­ing min­utes of the test.

Af­ter go­ing even faster than when he was be­ing tailed by Mar­quez, Vi–ales said: “I’M not sure if he’s try­ing to get in­side my head, but af­ter­wards I put new tyres into the bike and said “ok, now for sure I push at 100%!” and I ended up with a nice rhythm. It’s nice, be­cause it’s good mo­ti­va­tion, this fight­ing.

“I thought Mar­quez would make a time at­tack at the end Ð maybe he did! He’s fast for sure, but so are we, and it’s al­ways nice to have some­one else fast to help us im­prove. I hope that’s the way the cham­pi­onship goes, with me there, though! For sure he’s re­ally fast and his brak­ing points are amaz­ing. In that area we have to im­prove a bit.”

How­ever, in­ci­dents aside it was an­other in­cred­i­bly im­pres­sive test for Vi–ales as he main­tains his record of fin­ish­ing all four tests he’s com­pleted so far for Yamaha at the top of the time sheets. Fin­ish­ing well clear of the rest of the field not only on over­all lap times, his longer runs were also im­pres­sive, as he com­pleted a series of back-to­back race sim­u­la­tions at po­ten­tially race win­ning pace.

“I feel al­ways con­fi­dent, be­cause we can see that the speed is there. We need to still work in some ar­eas to be at 100% for the first race, but I feel great on the bike and with the team.

“IF the cham­pi­onship were to start to­mor­row, we would be ready. The bike is quite ready although we have to im­prove a lit­tle bit on brak­ing points and elec­tron­ics. I need to im­prove a lit­tle bit too, and be­come bet­ter for the bike, more smooth. I’M still a lit­tle too ag­gres­sive and I move the bike a lit­tle too much.”

Is Marc play­ing mind games or siz­ing up his ri­val?

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