Yamaha MotoGP recruit Vinales looks stronger than Rossi - Marquez

MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez believes Maverick Vinales looks stronger than Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi ahead of the start of the 2017 season

Yamaha MotoGP recruit Vinales looks stronger than Rossi - Marquez

Vinales, joining the Japanese squad to replace Ducati recruit Jorge Lorenzo, topped his first test with Yamaha at Valencia last November, and led the way again at Sepang this week as pre-season running got underway.

Can Rossi and Vinales really stay friends?

The Spaniard admitted he has been surprised by how quickly he has gotten up to speed, and Honda rival Marquez reckons Vinales looks faster than Rossi over a single lap, and will be a factor in the title fight.

"I think [Vinales] is ready to fight for the championship," Marquez told Gazzetta dello Sport. "And to win it.

"So are Valentino and [Dani] Pedrosa.

"Lorenzo is struggling but he's on his first days. I think the Yamahas will be the hardest to beat in the fight for the title.

"Maverick is riding very fast and feels very comfortable with the Yamaha, but when the championship starts it's all different.

"I don't know if he will be a bigger threat [than Rossi], because Valentino has more experience, and he's hungry. He's in front every Sunday.

"In any case, in terms of speed I see Maverick as the stronger rider."

Marquez says he is not sure any rivalry between the two Yamaha team-mates will help him, as he reckons it might just make them even more competitive.

"Do I want them to fight between them? Yes and no," he added.

"Often you try to beat your team-mate and you ride even faster than before.

"At the end of the day he's your first rival."

Lorenzo, like Vinales, adapted to his new surroundings quickly at Valencia, but had a tougher time during the three days at Sepang, having to regroup after ending the first day in 17th place.

While Marquez expects Lorenzo to be strong at certain circuits, including Losail that will host the season opener, he is not convinced his compatriot will be able to sustain a year-long challenge in his first Ducati season.

"He will be competitive in many races," he said.

"He might win in Qatar, a circuit where both Jorge and the Ducati go very quick.

"But for the championship I think the Yamahas are a bigger threat."

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