Movistar Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales said winning Sunday’s season-opening delayed MotoGP race in Qatar was like “being in a dream”.
In the final laps of the race at the Losail Circuit on his factory YZR-M1, the 22-year-old Vinales managed to get the better of his battle with Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso to claim the win by four tenths, while team-mate Valentino Rossi fought from 10th on the grid to claim third spot.
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At one stage there were concerns that the wet conditions would scupper the race but after a delay, the Losail Circuit dried out and the race proceeded.
After his victory, Vinales thanked his Yamaha team for their great work behind the scenes and added that he was thrilled to have won the season opener.
"I'm so satisfied and the team did a great job. I was keeping the bike all the time in the best set-up and honestly, I started good; I arrived second in the first corner and then appeared [Johann] Zarco and I needed to pick up the bike because if not, we crash," said Vinales.
"Then Marc [Marquez] and Dovi overtook me and the track was quite slippery. I couldn't make my own speed in the corners because it was difficult to turn the bike. I went out of the track at one time in a fast corner, so it was quite difficult in the early laps.
"Then I tried to be concentrated and have a good rhythm. Step by step I recovered the concentration and the confidence and finally when I arrived to Marc, I said now is the time to push, to catch Dovi and see what happens. Finally, we did a great battle and I'm so pleased with the Yamaha and I say thank you to the team because they did a great job.
"I know if I didn't pull a little bit [Dovi] was going to pass me because he was so fast in the straights and also in some sectors, Andrea was really fast, so he was gaining some tenths there. I was just trying to be smooth and on my best laps at the end and finally we did it. It is so great, like being in a dream with the Yamaha pole and a win and I cannot ask for more."
Vinales added that he was not surprised to see his teammate Rossi on the podium after his struggles during pre-season testing.
"I was telling in the press conference that Valentino, in the race always improve and he can be there," he continued.
"I didn't take him out of the battle because on Sunday he improves so much and for the next races, I know I have to work even more on Friday and Saturday.
“I am happy also for him because it is not easy doing all the pre-season not doing your best but finally in the race, you can do your best and you feel good: that's nice, it's nice to see two Yamahas on the podium. I predicted to one journalist Maverick, Dovi and Ross, so I win this."
The next MotoGP race is scheduled for April 9 in Argentina at the Rio Hondo Circuit.