Maverick Viñales secured his third podium with the RS-GP at Misano on Sunday, a year after joining the Aprilia project.
Initially looking like he would challenge for the victory, Viñales dropped back in the closing stages of the 27-lap race as eventual victor Pecco Bagnaia battled Enea Bastianini to the line.
“They had something else!” Viñales said of his fellow podium-sitters. “I try on the beginning because I always had in mind the race from 2020, that I put a lot of pressure on Pecco and he slightly make a mistake. Today I was trying it but he improve! He made not even one slight mistake to put the bike in.
“On the beginning of the race I was feeling very good, also in the middle of the part of the race but when Enea pass me I start to struggle a little bit. Then I just say 'Okay, today it's third. Maverick, it's what it is'. We need to work more and more and we will come back stronger for sure. I mean, we are very happy with Aprilia and all Piaggio Group. We are working on a good way and that's the way to go for the victory, step by step and getting that evolution that we are doing.
“They had a little bit extra [grip] but as Pecco mentioned, at the beginning they were struggling so I might make another strategy, maybe go a little bit calm at the beginning and then pushing at the end. Because there is two/three races that at the end of the race, I arrive with a little bit of problems. But what can I say, I'm sitting here, I'm really happy, very proud for Aprilia and is the time to make the next move. Very happy and very pleased and also congratulations to these two guys that ride fantastic today.”
While the Ducatis were going hammer and tong at each other in the closing laps, Viñales was ready to pick up the pieces if anything went wrong.
“I was waiting for it,” he said of the potential crash brewing. "I wish I was there battling because I was the one to try it. What can I say, you have to win on the track, not because the competitors make a mistake. I wanted to be also close to fight but was good, it was good. I'm really proud and happy.
“I ride most of the time very close to Pecco and I didn't have any issues with the tyre. Actually they were working very well through all the race. With Michelin and with the team we were working really good through all weekend to start with the correct pressure and to keep a good pressure during all the race. So the tyres were working fantastic and that's the way with Michelin, we are working many times stronger and stronger, to be more consistent and more fast and especially to do a good time attack.”
12 months ago, Viñales took his first laps with the RS-GP at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, during the 2021 post race test. While many doubted the move from Yamaha, the 27-year-old was enthusiastic from the off.
“More than proud, I feel I never give up, not even one tenth,” he said of his challenging year. “I keep working, I know the potential I have, I know from the first day the potential that the Aprilia can arrive and that's what we are doing it. So very happy and very pleased about the results, very pleased that I enjoy a lot the races and very happy to start well and do good first laps.
“We're doing a good job,” he continued. “I remember we start one year ago here and straightaway I feel good potential on the bike. I felt I could be good but I needed the process. I needed a process to adapt to the bike, is a totally different and completely new bike. Step by step I'm getting better to the bike, I'm getting used to it and the important point is that I start on Friday already with the good feeling and then I can improve during the weekend. What I like the most is that the lap time normally I do in FP4 it's the same I do on race so it gives you a lot of confidence, it gives you a lot of calmness that you are going to be fast.
“Basically it looks like now I'm good on starts, I'm good on first laps. Consistency, I'm not up and down. This is the group, the atmosphere, how we work. Aprilia is doing fantastic, Piaggio Group is working pretty strong to catch these guys and to fight for the victory. We can't stop, we need to keep working and keep focusing and believing that we can arrive to the victory
“I feel the atmosphere I have on the team and also the group we create, it's helping me to stay in the present, to stay focused, to stay motivated,” he elaborated on his continuing progression as a rider. "To bring Aprilia at the top, to bring Aprilia strong is my motivation. As I mentioned many times this is my baby project, is a project that I'm working for, and I'm happy and really proud that we are achieving results. But we don't stop there. Still I need to improve a little bit on brakes, it’s a part where I struggle the most on the first part of the season. We improve a little bit but still we need another step and then I will be ready for fight for the races. Of course the stability at home is very important. I work so hard at home. I keep improving myself every single day until I win, so I will keep working very hard.”