Maverick Vinales podium despite 'locking', Aleix Espargaro penalty

Maverick Vinales returns the RS-GP to the podium in the Le Mans Sprint, team-mate Aleix Espargaro forced out of early third by a jump start penalty.

Maverick Vinales, French MotoGP 2024 Sprint
Maverick Vinales, French MotoGP 2024 Sprint

After the disappointment of Jerez, Maverick Vinales and Aprilia were back on the MotoGP podium with third place in Saturday’s Le Mans Sprint.

Vinales was handed the rostrum when Marco Bezzecchi fell from second place in the closing stages, but later revealed he had been nursing an overheating rear tyre throughout the 13 laps.

If that issue can be improved for Sunday, Vinales feels he has the pace to fight for victory… assuming it stays dry.

“From the race start I struggled with the rear tyre overheating,” Vinales said. “So I was locking a lot and going into the corners sideways. 

“We need to figure out why, but we can still be pleased with the result. Being on the podium, despite the less than optimum conditions with the bike, is an extremely positive result.

“I'm quite happy and quite optimistic for tomorrow that if we solve the problem of the rear temperature of the tyre, we will do an amazing race. We need to look forward and believe that we can do it.

“We’ll try to be out front straight away again.”

Team-mate Aleix Espargaro held third place in the early stages but was handed a double long-lap penalty for jumping the start.

“It’s a shame that I made a mistake at the start but I still am not entirely comfortable with this clutch,” Espargaro said.

“I’m not really understanding the bite point of the clutch. I’ve been very close to a jump start at other rounds and today I didn’t gain any time but I moved the bike so rules are rules.

“In spite of the penalty, I still managed to finish fifth and that is extremely important. It will not be as hot in the [Sunday] race and that will help us manage the tyres.

“The bike is working well and I have the pace to stay with the best.”

Read More