Vinales insists he's used to pressure of being "favourite"

Maverick Vinales insists that being the championship favourite is nothing new for him, following his domination of MotoGP pre-season testing.

Vinales insists he's used to pressure of being "favourite"
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, Maverick Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing; Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

The Yamaha rider heads into this weekend’s Qatar race as the rider to beat, having come out on top in all four test sessions of the winter at Valencia, Sepang, Phillip Island and Losail – and finishing comfortably ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi in the final running of the pre-season.

While tacitly accepting his “favourite” status, the former Moto3 champion says he is used to being the main target for his opponents from his time in the junior ranks.

“I've already felt like the favourite in some other classes, like Moto3 and Moto2,” said Vinales, who only contested one season in the latter category before graduating to MotoGP with Suzuki in 2015.

“I'm very motivated and the team has understood me perfectly. I feel great on the Yamaha, I have a lot of confidence and when I’m riding at 100 percent the bike never fails.

“We still have to make a step forward on the electronics, as it will be important for the races.”

Vinales not my only rival – Marquez

Asked who he considers to be his main opponents for the 2017 campaign, reigning title-holder Marc Marquez was quick to point out other potential challengers for the crown besides Vinales.

“Maverick has gotten better all the time,” admitted Marquez.

“He felt comfortable from the start, was fast on one lap at all tracks, and this is what makes him a title contender. But I don’t like to choose a single rival.

"There’s Maverick, Valentino, [Dani] Pedrosa, and we have to wait and see how Jorge [Lorenzo] adapts to the Ducati.

“These are the riders I see as the most dangerous, because they were most consistent in testing.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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