Vinales admits disbelief at Rossi Qatar race recovery

Qatar Grand Prix winner Maverick Vinales admits he was shocked to see Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi right behind him during the MotoGP season opener.

Vinales admits disbelief at Rossi Qatar race recovery
Podium: race winner Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, third place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Podium: race winner Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Race winner Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
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In his first race for his new employers, Vinales lived up to pre-race expectations and took victory after overcoming Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso in a fierce duel during the second half of the race.

Rossi finished behind the duo in third, although he ran closely behind Vinales for a number of laps, albeit without getting close enough to attempt an overtaking move.

Vinales admitted he was shocked when he saw his pitboard indicate that he had his teammate – who had struggled in practice and started only 10th on the grid – had managed to join the leading group.

“I wasn't ruling him out at all,” Vinales said of Rossi. “I know Valentino gives something else on Sundays, but when I saw ‘plus zero Valentino’ [on the pitboard], I thought 'it can't be'.

“And I was worried he'd pass me and that I wouldn't be able to do my own race. But in the end I did a low 1m56s [lap] and I could open a gap.

“But congratulations to Valentino. The pre-season was hard for him but he managed to put that behind him and get a podium.”

Win a “weight off my shoulders”

After dominating winter testing, Vinales arrived to Qatar as clear favourite to win – and the Spaniard admitted that living up to expectations in the race was a major relief for him.

“It's taking a weight off my shoulders,” he added. “I led all the tests and arrived here thinking of winning. After a perfect FP1 and with all the pressure to win it wasn't easy.

“I did it and I felt really happy, very satisfied and very motivated for Argentina.”

Asked if it felt better than his Silverstone win last year for Suzuki, he replied: “The first win is always the first win, but I'm really happy. First grand prix [for Yamaha], pole, win.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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