Through all the tears and emotion, Maverick Viñales came to reflect that, despite missing out on his debut podium in the class, he had finally ridden a MotoGP machine to its full potential during the Grand Prix of Argentina.
The 21-year was in inspired form on Sunday, catching and passing Valentino Rossi to sit second in the closing laps, a debut podium and Suzuki's first since 2008 within his grasp.
That was until Viñales hit a wet patch at turn one – also the scene of Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow's crashes – three laps from the flag. “I take the wet part with the brake,” he explained, “as I was pushing to get away from Valentino.”
Although initially devastated by the incident – cameras caught Suzuki team members consoling the emotional Catalan as he returned to the garage – Viñales was pleased to prove that he is now ready and capable of running at the front among MotoGP's finest.
“For sure I'm disappointed in one way because the podium was mine,” said Viñales. “I was going to finish second. But I'm really happy because we showed to everyone which potential we have. Also we show that in Qatar we got one tyre that was not really good. We couldn't be on the podium.
“Anyway, we did a really good job. Into the top six for us was perfect. We were doing an incredible race. I was riding the bike over the limit in all the corners. I was doing my best and I am really satisfied that I could take out all my potential on the bike because in the 19 races [before] it was impossible.”
Viñales had been perplexed by not having the speed to remain with the race leaders in Qatar but now feels an issue with his tyre may have been the issue.
Looking ahead to Austin, the scene of his debut Moto2 triumph, the Suzuki rider believes he can continue to show strongly at the front of the class.
“I think in Qatar it was the tyre because [here] we were able to make the step. What I'm happy about in Argentina is that we didn't test and we had enough strategies to be there.
“I'm really positive for Austin. I think Austin is a really good track for me. With my riding style it has always been really good. We will take profit. We need to keep calm and continue of working like this.”
Vinales is tipped as Yamaha's main target should Jorge Lorenzo depart for Ducati next season.
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