A world champion in the Moto3 categorize, Maverick Vinales was fast-tracked to MotoGP after four wins during his only season in Moto2. He went on to show maturity beyond his 20 years as he methodically learnt the intricacies of the premier-class and new GSX-RR machine in 2015.
Vinales scored points in the opening ten races - an unprecedented feat for a rookie - and qualified second on the grid at Catalunya, just 0.083s behind experienced team-mate Aleix Espargaro.
The younger Spaniard went on to claim what would be Suzuki’s best result of its comeback season with sixth in the race, a result Espargaro later matched at Aragon and Vinales repeated at Sepang.
Espargaro got the better of Vinales by just eight points in the final championship standings.
Maverick’s performances soon saw him picked out as a future MotoGP ‘Top Gun’ by the likes of Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi.
Unsurprisingly, Suzuki faced a real fight to keep hold of its young star beyond 2016 - and, by the time he won the factory's first race since 2007 at Silverstone, he was already confirmed as moving to Yamaha.
In 2016, Vinales and the improving GSX-RR made their ambitions known by leading the Phillip Island pre-season test. Vinales fell while in pursuit of a debut MotoGP rostrum at round two in Argentina, but typically didn't make the same mistake twice and scored in every other race. Indeed, in a season with a record number of accidents, 21-year-old Vinales was the only premier-class rider to make less mistakes than last year - falling just five times during GP weekends, compared with eight in his rookie season.
The inevitable first rostrum came at Le Mans and, after the GSX-RR struggled in the mid-season rain, Vinales romped to victory at Silverstone in September. It was Suzuki's first MotoGP win since 2007, but first in the dry since the start of the four-stroke era in 2002. Unfortunately for Suzuki, Vinales had already decided to accept Yamaha's offer to replace Jorge Lorenzo in 2017. Nevertheless, they were able to celebrate two more podiums together and an excellent fourth in the final world championship standings.
Vinales - who also claimed five front-row starts - scored more than twice the points of team-mate Espargaro, who had put the Suzuki on pole in 2015. In a further sign of his talent, Vinales was instantly fast on his Yamaha debut, leading the Valencia post-season test. Few will be surprised if he fights for the world title in 2017...