Vinales switches focus to beating Dovizioso to MotoGP runner-up spot

Maverick Vinales has turned his focus to beating Andrea Dovizioso to the runner-up spot in this year's MotoGP standings after his title hopes were dashed at Phillip Island

Vinales switches focus to beating Dovizioso to MotoGP runner-up spot

Having dropped 41 points behind championship leader Marc Marquez at Motegi, Vinales was mathematically eliminated from contention in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix as he finished third behind Marquez and his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi - leaving him 50 adrift.

"I'm happy to be on the podium," said Vinales, who was the pre-season favourite for the title following his switch from Suzuki to Yamaha.

"The last races have been tough, [this has been the] first race in the second part of the season [where] I felt strong.

"Now winning the championship is impossible, but we have to try and finish second.

"Coming on strong now at the end is going to be important for 2018."

Although eliminated from the title fight, Vinales said another positive he could draw from the Phillip Island weekend was a much-improved wet-weather performance.

The Spaniard had criticised Yamaha for failing to get on top of its wet-weather struggles at Motegi, where a disappointing run to ninth place dealt a major blow to his already-fading title ambitions.

But, during a wet Sunday warm-up, Vinales was second only to Marquez, and he believes his team can now be competitive again in case bad weather hits this weekend at Sepang.

"Honestly I did the same as Saturday morning [in FP3, also wet] and in Japan," he said.

"The bike was working better [in warm-up], I felt much better with the tyres and I could push a little bit more.

"I'm happy we found the way, because Malaysia has a lot of possibilities of rain."

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