Misano playmaker Viñales no longer feels “like a rookie” on Aprilia
Maverick Viñales said a recent test at Misano meant he didn’t feel “like a rookie” as he dominated MotoGP practice on Friday in his second start on an Aprilia.
Last weekend’s Aragon Grand Prix was the former Yamaha rider’s first round with Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, and he finished 18th from 19th on the grid.
On the opening day of the San Marino Grand Prix weekend, Viñales set the tone with a time of 1: 32.666 on the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Free Practice 1.
As the rain started to fall about 15 minutes into the opening session and for the duration of the second hit of 45 minutes, the Spaniard had been genuinely competitive in the dry.
Misano is where he made his first laps on the RS-GP in a two-day test earlier this month, which played a role in testing for the grand prix.
However, Viñales noted that there was still a significant improvement in him as an Aprilia rider.
“When I was in Alcañiz [MotorLand Aragon], the first few laps I felt like a beginner who has never ridden a MotoGP motorcycle, ”he joked.
“Because it’s too different; I need to use very different lines [on the Aprilia compared to the Yamaha].
“In Misano it seems to be a lot easier, because I already understand how to go with this bike on this track. I can anticipate some movements; I can correct some things.
“It’s a question of feeling, of confidence, of understanding the bike and the track.
“But there is still a lot of room to improve. It’s very positive, because I felt good, today was a good day, I didn’t feel at the limit, and I’m still learning, so it’s very positive.
His teammate Aleix Espargaro finished sixth in FP1 and eighth in Free Practice 2, while Viñales finished 17th in this last session.
However, the new Aprilia rider said the wet race was the “most important” part of his day.
“The most important thing today is that I tried the bike in the wet,” said Viñales.
“We feel like we have very good potential.
“It was really good because I got good feedback from the bike in the wet, and that means a lot, it means so much.”
Overall, Viñales says the show left him “calmer”, given the potential that is apparent.
“Like in Alcañiz, we don’t think about position and performance at all,” he explained.
“We know that we have to focus on the feelings, especially on this learning process that we are going through.
“It’s good to be in front, it’s clear, you feel a lot calmer, a lot more at ease, because you feel like you have speed.
“But we have to keep a lot of calm, try to build a solid stage and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Viñales isn’t the only relative newcomer this weekend at Misano.
Franco Morbidelli, now a member of the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team, finished 16th in the dry and 13th in the wet on his return from injury.
Andrea Dovizioso, whose “sabbatical” is over now that he has taken over the Morbidelli seat at Petronas Yamaha SRT, finished 24th in FP1 and 21st in FP2 on the “A-Spec” YZR-M1.
Free Practice 3 takes place this evening (AEST).