Maverick Viñales is set to make his official race debut for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team this weekend and has his eyes firmly set on the top step of the rostrum. During the off-season, he has consistently been one of the top contenders and is keen on keeping the trend going at the Qatar GP.

The Spaniard showed he felt comfortable at the test a fortnight ago, when he sealed his fourth fastest lap of the four official pre-season IRTA tests, but the youngster remains level-headed about his Yamaha race debut.

This weekend he aims to improve on his best MotoGP placement at the Losail Circuit, a sixth place in 2005. However, the Spaniard is certainly not unfamiliar with the Qatar podium, having clinched the Moto3 victory in 2012 and a second place in the same class one year later.

“I'm really happy to start the first Grand Prix, especially after the tests during the winter were so positive for us,” he said. “We are really motivated to start this new era. After the amazing pre-season, we can‘t wait to finally start racing and work hard over the next 18 rounds. I'm very curious to see how the Yamaha will respond at the track during a race and to see if we are going to be as strong during the race as during the test. I'm so excited to start!”

Does he have reason to be this excited? Do you think he has a shot at victory on Sunday?