Maverick Vinales: ‘In a bad weekend, these points were really important’

Maverick Vinales takes the fight to Ducati at Le Mans but fifth place in the grand prix means he needs another step from the RS-GP.

Maverick Vinales, Marc Marquez, 2024 French MotoGP
Maverick Vinales, Marc Marquez, 2024 French MotoGP

Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales was the top non-Ducati rider in qualifying for the both French MotoGP and then both races.

But the COTA winner was disappointed to drop from third place in the Sprint to fifth in the grand prix, despite pegging the victory deficit at four-seconds in both the half and full-length contests.

The grand prix didn't start well when a scare at turn one saw Vinales straight line the chicane and slip to fifth.

“I braked, to [dis]engage all the devices, but then the bike shaked so much and I could not stay on the track,” Vinales explained. “When I re-entered, maybe I gave up too much because I went from 2nd to 5th. But I made a mistake, so it was OK. After that, I tried to keep the rhythm.”

After Pedro Acosta passed him, then fell, Vinales overtook team-mate Aleix Espargaro for fourth.

Although Vinales couldn’t keep Marc Marquez at bay in the middle stages, Fabio di Giannantonio’s subsequent long lap put the RS-GP rider back into fourth. But a recovering Enea Bastianini took that place from him on the penultimate lap.

“We battled with Marc, with di Giannantonio and I felt I could go forward to the front guys. Looked like we were closing the gap, but from lap 17 [of 27] I started to struggle a lot with the rear tyre and was more conservative,” said Vinales.

I saw I had a lot of room behind, so I tried not to make any mistakes. So in a bad weekend, these points were really important.”

Vinales was the only non-Ducati rider in the top seven and, although fifth in the world championship standings, is only ten points from second place Francesco Bagnaia.

But what does he need to challenge the front-running Ducatis again?

“Obviously, we go to Montmelo and the expectation will be very high, but we need to [think] conservative because maybe the Ducati has improved a lot and they might also be strong in this track,” Vinales said.

“But for the rest of the tracks, we need to check how to make this next step.

“Some tracks will be better or not. I thought this weekend should be really good but the guys were telling me maybe it's not the best for the bike and at the end they were right.

“But I tried to ride the best possible and I'm happy that at least [after the top four Ducatis] I was the first one.”

Espargaro finished ninth on Sunday after losing time in tangles with Enea Bastianini and Franco Morbidelli.

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