MotoGP 2011 Race 1 Qatar

Round 1: Wilco Zeelenberg, Movistar Yamaha rider performance analyst | Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha | Losail International Circuit, Qatar

“We were expecting a lot after the winter test because we were the fastest all nine days on track. After winning the Valencia race with Jorge [Lorenzo], winning Qatar with Maverick was really special. We replaced the rider but we were still winning and you can imagine that it was a bit surreal.

“It was wonderful to see a young kid in MotoGP who won his first race just a season earlier and now with the Yamaha looked very promising. The last five laps of the race with all the action between him, [Andrea] Dovizioso, and Vale [Rossi] were great to watch. After all the preparation and emotions we went through, it was an amazing feeling when he took the victory.

“Over the season, I don’t think we were expecting too much. Four or five races in, we were leading the championship. Even in the last few rounds, we could have still made a difference and that’s what you need as a champion. I don’t think we were over-enthusiastic. We seemed to be on the road to the championship but this is racing; things change.

“I was very proud to notice during the race that Maverick listened to me. We all saw the crash from Johann Zarco; it happened in a corner I mentioned to Maverick a few times advising him not to go there too wide as it can be very slippery when you have too much lean angle and you can lose the front even when the lean is correct.

“When Zarco crashed at turn 2, Vinales was one meter wider and the following lap he was even two meters wider to the left and opened more space so he would not end up like Zarco. We laughed about it after the race. Like any rider, Maverick is not a good listener; they are all focused on their own. But if it’s advice, they swallow it up.”

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