Maverick Vinales did all he could to snatch a podium from new MotoGP title leader Joan Mir at the end of Sunday's Aragon Grand Prix.

The Monster Yamaha rider led the opening seven laps of the race before being shuffled to fourth at mid-distance, as he began to struggle for rear grip.

But Vinales then surprised by mounting a late charge, hunting down Mir to finish just 0.266s from the GSX-RR, famed for its speed at the end of a race.

"We took the maximum out of the bike today," Vinales said. "The Suzuki and Honda had more grip on banking. I didn’t expect them to be so fast.

"When they overtook me I saw they were better. We need to work more. We know we can’t make our weak points strong, but we can make our strong points stronger."

The Spaniard, who is now just six points from Fabio Quartararo and 12 from Mir, was surprised by his own late-race speed having lost grip after half-a-dozen laps.

"Honestly the front tyre was good. My problem was the rear. After 5 or 6 laps there was a big drop on the left side," he said.

While Quartararo sunk all the way to 18th due to soaring front-tyre pressure, Vinales pondered whether a similar thing happened to his rear tyre.

"I didn’t expect this drop from the tyre. I didn’t have that all weekend. We need to understand. Was the pressure too high? Is that why it made that drop on the rear [grip], especially on entry?

"I was losing the rear on entry and I couldn’t keep corner speed. I lose a lot in the first metres of traction also."

Yet Vinales' final lap was a scorching 1m 49.092s, quicker he'd been since lap 4 and better than any other rider at the end of the race. The Misano winner was 0.8s faster than Mir on that last lap and 0.2s better than race-winner Alex Rins (Suzuki).

"I couldn’t make that [early] pace again in the '48s, but somehow at the end of the race I was able again to do a '49.0s so we need to understand why. Maybe I changed the riding style in the last laps. Taking the strong points from the Yamaha.

"I made the last two laps closing my eyes. I wanted to have the opportunity to push Joan so maybe he make a mistake. But he was quite under control. I tried It was good, I had something more in the last laps. That’s good for the next races."

Vinales, who raised eyebrows by revealing he believed he could improve his starts - often the weakest point of his race - by turning off launch control, had passed Quartararo to take the holeshot at turn one on Sunday.

"Big round of applause! I started first! I’m so happy!" he joked. "I did it with [the launch control] electronics. The first corner is very close here so it easier to make a good start."

Yamaha's top rider in the world championship for the first time this season, Vinales said his main focus for next weekend's Aragon event is to work on further improving the strengths of the Yamaha.

"For me, it looks like every time we try to improve the weak points we don’t make a good race," he said. "When we concentrate on riding the bike we do good. Every time we try to explore something we miss laps on the track.

"So we need to focus on the Yamaha DNA and try to make strong points stronger, which is corner speed, front stability and see if lap times are better or not.

"I think what we did this weekend was we concentrate just on riding style. We forget about grip and about tyres. I used just S compounds to put a lot of corner speed. It seems to work. I’m happy, and confident for the next races.

"For sure over one lap the bike is fantastic. But our competitors have also improved. Honda found a way to make Alex and Nakagami fast and they are also our opponents now."

Vinales is the only Monster Yamaha rider at Aragon with team-mate Valentino Rossi forced to remain at home after a positive Covid test on the eve of this weekend.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...