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Yesterday Was The Start of Something Big

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I can’t get over yesterday’s Silverstone MotoGP race. The battle for second place was the best racing I have seen in MotoGP in a long time, but that was far from the most spectacular thing.

As the “aliens” rode as hard as they could far behind him (in the case of Marc Marquez, maybe too hard), a 21 year old kid named Maverick Viñales was on another level entirely. You think of a young rider taking his first win in MotoGP in a squeaker … by a hair. Viñales, on the other hand, took his first MotoGP win by smoking everyone else.  He smoked them! Ok, I had to say that twice.

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There is something special about Viñales, and it is not just his otherworldly talent on a motorcycle.  When you observe him, and listen to him, he has this calm focus you would more likely find in an older veteran.

Sure, Viñales has a good resume, including 17 victories at the GP level, along with the 2013 Moto3 championship … but it is his mental attitude that will be his most important asset going forward. He will need that calm focus as the teammate of Valentino Rossi at Yamaha beginning next year. In case you haven’t noticed, Rossi hates being slower than his teammate (it hasn’t happened very often) and can play mind games in the paddock to make sure a younger rider appreciates his place in the pecking order. We suspect Viñales will handle that situation quite well.

In any event, yesterday was just the start of something big.

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55 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “In any event, yesterday was just the start of something big”

    welllll, maybe (just maybe) if he were staying with Suzuki…? but alas, these are “famous last words” in the context of motorcycle grand prix.

    we’ve seen this movie.

  2. Curly says:

    Interesting tidbit about Maverick. His girlfriend is Kiara Fontanesi who is a four time FIM Women’s MX Champion from Italy. She’s sponsored by Yamaha and that probably explains her low key hooded presence at the victory paddock last Sunday.

    http://www.yamaha-racing.com/wmx/teams/rider/kiara-fontanesi

    • Repsol1 says:

      Hmmm. When I clicked the link, her BIO stated she was “single”.

      BTW – Accidently clicked “Report Post”…my bad.

      • mickey says:

        maybe that means she’s not married. That’s what single used to mean before social media got it all boloxed up with “in a relationship” lol

  3. VLJ says:

    Having read this site for years, I’ve noticed one constant narrative: Valentino “Machiavelli” Rossi plays constant head games with his teammates. If one were to believe what’s posed here, VR is the worst teammate in the history of ever.

    I’m not sure what people have been watching all these years, but #46 has always been one of the most likeable, enthusiastic, friendly, and downright effusive competitors in the entire paddock. For a guy who’s supposed to be hell on his teammates, he somehow became and remains the best of friends with long-term teammates Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden, and it’s not just lip-service, either. He is genuinely friends with the entire Hayden family, Earl included, and he’s close with Colin’s family. He was also close with Marco Simoncelli’s family.

    He’s had heated rivalries with Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, and Jorge Lorenzo. Of those three, only Lorenzo was his teammate, and when it comes to being a life-of-the-party type, Lorenzo isn’t exactly the Chris Farley of MotoGP. Similarly, almost no one got along with Max Biaggi early in his 500 GP career. Gibernau is probably the only rider with whom it might legitimately be claimed that Rossi played head games.

    Then there’s the Rossi-Marquez rivalry. Again, not teammates, and for all the media folderol, there really hasn’t been much in the way of head games. We’ve witnessed obvious acrimony—legitimate acrimony, not just silly head games—which is part and parcel of two stud bulls sharing the same arena.

    Seriously, this whole Rossi Plays Head Games thing has always been much ado about nothing.

    • Tim C says:

      I’ll leave it to others to argue or agree, but I’ll give you points for the Chris Farley bit as well as using “stud bull” in a sentence.

      “She was looking for the stud bull, the he-cat. And that was me.
      Tommy The Cat is my name, and I say unto thee….”

      • TexinOhio says:

        Very nice Tim C! Sail the seas of Cheese.

        As a long time Rossi fan, it seems he only plays head games with teammates that are a threat to him. Checa, Edwards, Hayden were never a threat to him.

        • VLJ says:

          Well, come on, Lorenzo is the only teammate he’s ever had that was a serious threat to him, and the only teammate for which the “head games” thing was bandied about. Bottom line, Lorenzo is just a tough guy to have as a teammate. He’s hardly the most easygoing dude in the paddock.

          Come to think of it, Nicky was always neck and neck with Rossi during Valentino’s time at Ducati. He was a definite threat, relatively speaking, and they remained the best of friends.

          • TexinOhio says:

            Hayden wasn’t winning multiple races or championships from under VR’s nose. JL’s been doing that for awhile now.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I agree. I think this head games thing is way overblown, and it just isn’t on this forum. I think livid fans tend to elevate a rider as successful as Rossi to something akin to a Jedi Master. He is clearly using the Force to pilot a motorcycle like that, therefore he must also be capable of bending the weak-minded fools around him to his will.

      Frankly I just can’t see how “mind games” would even be an effective tool at this level of racing. How can one possibly make it to the premier class if his mind can be so easily dissected by his competitors? The Force is strong with all of those guys.

    • Scott says:

      VLJ nails it shut.

      (Cue rebuttal by Dave in 3… 2… 1…)

    • took says:

      i’ve lived in italy almost half my life AND studied human behavior and psyche for a lifetime, especially those countless psychological components for which we have no vocabulary, which are the most insidiuous. that dont mean my opinion is worth more than anyone’s, but just ftr.
      valentino is one of those people who’s super SUPER likeable because he’s kinda invisible as a snake, and the son of a (mother) semi invisible snake, without an ounce of conscience, who would destroy a planet faster (if he could) than star wars’ evil empire’s death star if he had the power and if he thought no one was watching, so long as he could remain number 1. furthermore, though this is quite well camouflaged, his true spoiled brat heartless cold as stone soul is most analagous to whatshisname on game of thrones the young king who’d revel in bringing pain to and destroying anyone he pleases to bring pain to and destroy, simply because he can and simply because they dared not lick his feet. this kind of aberrant psychology thrives in many many many people on earth and is simply managed by social context and throngs of culture who simply aren’t tuned to sniffin that wavelength. it would rear its ugly head, however, on a very frequent basis throughout vale’s career but fans in america dont speak italian and fans in italy are among the most dangerous manifestation of the blind definition of true intense fanaticism, which thank god finds a release in a sports venue as opposed to a military conflict. but to those like me who either see it or believe they can see it, it is frightening and gives the chills. i wish i could provide the evidence and im likely to be blasted for stating my case without evidence, but its completely pointless because in blablabla scientific terms, its cognitive science: brains are wired diff’ly and you can show 2 people the same thing and each brain will process it according to that brainz wirin’. like u could show me a photo and to me its green and to you its blue type of thing. but i still pray for you all u never threaten his number 1 status by possibly being faster becaue he and his mother will skin you alive (if they can). still, im crackin up every tym i remember marco melandri’s bewildered eyes when in italian, one time, post race, the press and vale were incensed that he didnt move over for valentino when he (marco) was leading the race. and btw, if u anger him or cross him, ur life is ruined. on a side note, but this has less to do with his psyche and more with the public at large, it still bewilders me that the public at large cant even have a lucid conversation that when at laguna seca he jeopardized casey stoner’s life AND decided that its OK to skip a corner the public at large confuses the thrill of the spectacle (AMAZING!!! SUPER THRILLING IM THE FIRST TO ADMIT) with the number of corners in that racetrack. but while that stuff can be talked about and pointed at, the milion nuances of his psyche of RULE due to influence and mass psychology are simply invisible to most brain circuits. or im imagining it. im gonna brace myself now for whatever consequences the cosmos will have for me for having said these things of his highness. basically, im saying he’ll stop at NOTHING to preserve his N1 status. but must be camouflaged about it.

      • took says:

        in fact, in italy they still think nicky hayden’s championship when he beat valnetino and the world doesnt count. in their brains its like a glitch. like, they think because nicky was mostly second or third on the podium that year, they think nicky didnt beat valentino. coz they confuse the finish of the racing championship with the the number of wins, coz its nicky and not valentino. when in fact its pretty effin stupid because its like someone thinking “well during the race he was mostly in second place so it doesnt matter that he crossed the finish line first, im gonna say he was second or third.” i say wake up: its the finish line, dude. and when t comes to the finish line of that championship, nicky crossed it first. but as it turns out dorna and spain built and europe built and build the FIM championship to fit themselves. world championship my ass. its the european circus, traveling here and there too. in italy they still dont think nicky won that championship. like it dont count. dont get me started.

      • mickey says:

        and yet half my posts go to moderation lol

        • Scott says:

          No kidding!

        • VLJ says:

          “and yet half my posts go to moderation lol”

          Well, mickey, maybe if you completely eschewed punctuation and simply wrote in a bewildering stream-of-consciousness gibberish you too might avoid the dreaded ‘moderation’ tag.

          It worked for our esteemed Took, though you can see where the Brandybucks might have had issues with him.

      • Curly says:

        Ha ha ha, you had me going there. What a load.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “im gonna brace myself now for whatever consequences the cosmos will have for me for having said these things of his highness.”

        why you I outta… (Norm shakes fist in air)

        BANG ZOOM right to the moon Alice…!!!

      • Scott says:

        Took…

        Is this all because Rossi didn’t give you his autograph that time?

  4. Max says:

    VR will be playing games next year trying to throw Vinales off his game. VR is no mentor unless he gets all the credit.

    • Chris says:

      don’t think it’ll matter. one more Spaniard to wipe the floor with the old man…

      • VLJ says:

        You do realize that Rossi came within a whisker of winning the title last year before finishing runner-up, and is again second in the championship this year, just as he was in 2014…right?

        There aren’t a whole lot of people, Spanish or otherwise, wiping the floor with that particular old man.

        • EGS says:

          Rossi has nobody to blame but himself for last year’s result. MM clearly got into HIS head and he blew it.

          Totally respect Val but don’t appreciate some of his antics…

  5. Gary says:

    I’m just happy to see Suzuki back on the top step. The Yamahonda monarchy was getting old.

  6. 2whltuner says:

    Good on you Maverick for taking the Suzuki for the win, now that being said, its seems that Suzuki has a problem when it comes to retaining riders that can ride the Suzuki at the top. Case in point, John Hopkins put all that time in and rode the GSV-R to the top then jumped ship for Kawasaki and Monster $$, in which his career took a sudden down turn. Alvaro Bautista again rode for Suzuki and started to gain on the competition and was going good, having had top 5 finishes on the Suzuki, but had to jump to Honda, and now on the Aprilia, well not so good, and now Maverick, the first win for Suzuki since Vermeulen in 2007 and now he’s off to Yamaha as Rossi’s teammate. Is the grass always greener on the other side?? But you never know until you find out.

  7. J Wilson says:

    MV used to race (and beat) Marquez back in their junior days, so he’s not going to be intimidated.

    While I’ve no doubt that VR can turn as cold as a hit man, from the outside looking in, I always thought VR and Jorge were just too different personality-wise to ever get along. VR is generally a pretty sunny person. If you listen to Jorge, and think of the hoohaa that came up when he was showing off his home in those videos, JL seems to have this ‘I don’t get no respect’ chip on his shoulder. I’m sure he feels second fiddle to the circus that always follows VR, but really, who wouldn’t? I’ve never seen him hug or shake hands with other riders or winners after a race, which Valentino usually does (save for MM . . .). MV seems to be a little more outgoing, so who knows, maybe they’ll get along better.

    I know teammates, especially in this big money, high stakes class, are rarely friends, but if they can be accommodating, imagine what you could learn with VR offering suggestions, instead of trying to cut your throat.

    • mickey says:

      my wife commented on how congenial all the podium riders and crew teams were yesterday. Everyone was back slapping and congratulating everyone form all 3 camps, and it seemed every rider made a point of riding up to Vinales on his victory lap and shake his hand. It was good all around.

  8. tbrad says:

    The third pic is not Vinales, its his team mate Espargaro!

  9. Vrooom says:

    Vinales has looked great all year. Fantastic to see him bring Suzuki their first win of the modern era. The means Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati have all won races this year. That’s competitive.

    • Dave says:

      Hopefully this and the other results turned in by Ducati and NCR Honda will encourage other sponsors to look at MotoGP.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “NCR Honda”

        LCR Honda, Lucio Ceccinello (note, also a flavour of gelati. the wife and I had some over the weekend, it’s delicious)

  10. JVB says:

    Maverick will be a force in the future. Hopefully VR will adopt a mentor philosophy vs combat like he did with Lorenzo.
    I am happy to see Suzuki win a race. Hopefully the podium will be more diverse in the future as well. I do applaud Suzuki, but they leave me scratching my head. With sales closer to Kawasaki than Yamaha, why aren’t they fully committed to their GSXR WSBK entry with their $$$? Yes, I know 2017 is a new bike, but they should have re-rolled the GSXR many years ago. To me MotoGp is what you race after your bread and butter earning bikes are representing themselves on the podium. WSBK is more about the bikes, MotoGp is more about your favorite rider.

    • Curly says:

      I believe that WSBK works well for Kawasaki as a lower cost way to promote their bikes but in the scheme of things a Superbike championship doesn’t have the prestige that a MotoGP championship does. Ten or fifteen years ago when Supersport Replica bike sales were still on the rise it might have made sense for Suzuki to go WSBK but now the market has shifted and showing off your technical ability in MotoGP probably means more for the whole brand. Suzuki participation in GP goes back to 1960 and then quickly winning their first championships in the 50 and 125cc classes in 1963.

      • Dave says:

        I think we get caught up looking at this from an American perspective. I think the POI for participating in MotoGP (or Moto2/3) is full spectrum brand awareness. Mahindra and Derbi have been participants in the past, despite not selling any race replica products. They were elevating their brand in order to sell more scooters in the EU & Asia. Same with Honda and Yamaha. When you think about it, Ducati’s participation is curious. They sell a more limited range (and volume) of motorcycle types than the rest.

        • Curly says:

          That’s right. KTM is even going to compete in Moto2 next season with their own chassis but the Honda engine. Not something that Ducati Yamaha and Suzuki can do though. Just wouldn’t be right would it?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Very true. MotoGP is big business in other countries, and the positive brand awareness awarded is likely worth the price of admission. In fact, it might even be a bargain considering the size of these markets.

          With respect to Ducati, racing is as much a part of Ducati’s brand as desmodromic valve actuation and 90° twins, so their participation isn’t curious at all to me. It’s just part of their identity.

          • mickey says:

            I agree Jeremy. Racing is just in Ducatis blood. LIke it was Soichiro Honda’s blood. He lived for racing, and was the little upstart against the racing greats Triumph, BSA, Norton, MV, BMW Ducati and Moto Guzzi at one time. People sometimes forget Honda’s humble beginnings. The man was absoluetely driven to win. Too bad he is gone.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “With respect to Ducati, racing is as much a part of Ducati’s brand as desmodromic valve actuation and 90° twins”

            FISTPUMP…!!!

  11. Neil says:

    Young man’s game. Hunger. Less injuries. It was a fantastic win. I like Vinales as a new talent on the scene. It’s amazing he was able to get so far ahead when his team mate finished seventh. His team gave him a great set up and he works well with them as far as letting them know what he needs in the bike. I don’t know what the Yamaha will be like. Kenny Roberts Sr tested the YAM M1 and said unless it is set up perfectly, it’s hard to ride around set up issues. So we will see next year, but we do know Vinales is FAST.

    • Curly says:

      The only report I could find of King Kenny riding the M1 was in 2011 at Laguna and that was an 800cc era bike with some of the electronics disabled for him. He didn’t like it as you say but that was 5 years ago and the current M1 has a reputation of being one of the easier, if not easiest, of the Premier class bikes to ride. I think Mav the Alien will take to it and be on the front row right away.

    • Dave says:

      Re: “Kenny Roberts Sr tested the YAM M1 and said unless it is set up perfectly, it’s hard to ride around set up issues. So.. ”

      Really? This guy rode a 750cc 2-stroke on a dirt track! LOL

  12. DucDynasty says:

    Are we witnessing the evolution of the next gen of riders? I think so. As far as Suzuki, it’s good to see them making a great effort. Only time will tell if they have the consistent development to keep being competitive. Sure is fun to watch Vinales ride. I sorta wish he was staying with Suzuki.

  13. Provologna says:

    Is it possible that the Suzuki now approximately equals the performance of Honda and Yamaha?

    Regardless, what a fantastic and exciting season this turned out to be, even if it’s basically over and MM further packs his display case w/another Championship.

    Congratulations Suzuki and Vinales! Fantastic to see Suzuki back on top, and hopefully to be there again.

    Are Honda and MM curious how this panned out?

    Thanks for the great images, especially the last one.

  14. notarollingroadblock says:

    Aleix (third photo) finished 5 places up from his average too, so (as they were saying on the broadcast) the conditions clearly were just right for the Suzuki package. Considering who he beat and how he beat them though, credit goes to Maverick for a stellar ride. It’s hard to say if he and Suzuki will be regulars on the podium for the rest of the year (might be if Lorenzo continues his ways), but once he’s on the Yamaha, it’s going to fun to watch.

  15. Silver says:

    We’ll see… they said the same thing about Ben Speis

    • Tyler says:

      That is my fear as well, however Spies was on a proven class-leading machine while Mav is riding a bike that could still be considered “in development”. Plus, Ben’s single premier class victory (at Indy IIRC) was nowhere near as commanding a victory as Maverick’s. In any case, nice to see some different colored leathers on the podium.

      • Provologna says:

        The fact that Spies rode a fully developed proven Yamaha winner vs. Vinales’ Suzuki re-entering MotoGP less than two years ago must be considered Re. comparisons between the two riders.

        Spies’ only #1 MotoGP finish was the 2011 Dutch TT. I was surprised to see he finished a full 7.7S ahead of a guy named Casey Stoner riding for Honda that year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Dutch_TT

  16. Tim C says:

    “In case you haven’t noticed, Rossi hates being slower than his teammate (it hasn’t happened very often)” – VR seems to be slipping. Normally with MM and JL slipping he’d be there to capitalize but he’s slipping too. While I personally hope he can still pull something out, if not this year then at least before he’s done, if he stoops to the mind games if (when?) this guy proves faster, it will be a disappointment…and hopefully if it comes to that Mav here just cleans his clock on the track….

  17. Jeremy in TX says:

    It was an amazing run, both by Vinales himself and the Suzuki Ecstar team sitting in the background, crunching data, processing rider feedback and tweaking away. I hope to see some good stuff from them for the remaining races.

    And yes, the battle for second was great. Gotta hand it to Crutchlow.

  18. BIG BELLY says:

    Elbows,Knees,and BIG BALLS OF TALENT !

  19. mickey says:

    The problem with the way he won yesterday is it didn’t get him much tv face time. The cameras were all focused on the race for second and Vinales for the most part was so far ahead he wasn’t even in the frame.

    Congrats to a great ride by the young man. Now he knows he can do it. Will be much more dangerous in the future. SO will Cal Crutchlow now that he believes in himself again.

    • Chris says:

      no better way to win, than by a mile…

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “no better way to win, than by a mile”

        in 12 Meter Yacht racing they have a phrase I’d like to introduce you guys to, they call it…

        a “HORIZON JOB”.

        feel free to begin working this into the lexicon.