Vinales: A shame, we had the potential to win

Another bad start ‘potentially’ denied Maverick Vinales of a debut Aprilia victory in Sunday’s Americas MotoGP.
Maverick Vinales, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April
Maverick Vinales, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April

A repeat of Saturday’s clutch problems saw Vinales swamped on the uphill charge to turn one, dropping him from eighth on the grid to around 15th, before finishing the opening lap in tenth.

Helped by further accidents, Vinales was able to pick off his opponents and reach fourth place by lap 14 of 20.

Despite going on to set his best lap of the race on lap 17, a podium - and perhaps the chance to make history as the first MotoGP winner on three different brands of bike - was already of reach.

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Vinales took the chequered flag 3.4s from former Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartararo and 8.3s from race winner Alex Rins, having lost three seconds to the LCR Honda rider on the opening lap alone.

“It's a shame, because I think we had the potential to win the race. Or at least to fight for it,” Vinales said. “But it's mandatory we improve the start. It's something we will fix. This is clear.

“I think it's the setting of the clutch,” he revealed, “because I can see the procedure of my team-mate and the others is very similar, but the behaviour of the bike is very different.

“So it must be something that as Aprilia we need to improve.

“It's not really aggressive,” he explained of the errant clutch engagement. “For me, it's a matter of finding the correct setting with the correct power in the electronics.”

The Portimao runner-up confirmed the clutch settings hadn’t been changed after a similarly poor getaway in the Sprint because “it was too risky.”

He added: “We are not worried about it, because we have the speed, but if we can be at the front and win races, it's even better."

Maverick Vinales , MotoGP race, Grand Prix Of The Americas, 16 April
Maverick Vinales , MotoGP race, Grand Prix Of The Americas, 16 April

Vinales, whose team-mate Aleix Espargaro crashed due to a ride-height glitch on the opening lap, returns to Europe holding fourth in the world championship and 19 points from Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati).

“I think we are on a good point after the three races, we are faster than we expect, and this is very important. And today I feel I made a good race," he said.

“The only thing I need is to have a free [track ahead of me] and it will be a totally different race, a much faster race of course.”

“I think the rain in Argentina ruined a lot, because I think we could be [only] 4 or 5 points behind in the championship,” he said. “But it makes us learn, and this is very important, because there will be more races in the wet.

“So it's good that these [wet and clutch problems] happened now, to improve, because the season is very long and we must be very strong in the middle and after the summer break.”

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