MotorLand Aragon MotoGP: Championship Battle Continues with Maverick Vinales Debut on the Aprilia
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MotorLand Aragon MotoGP: Championship Battle Continues with Maverick Vinales Debut on the Aprilia

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 10 September 2021

Author: Myanna Wedes

This weekend we are racing at MotorLand Aragon, a circuit that always challenges the riders to be their best and with a new debutant that being Maverick Vinales now a full time Aprilia MotoGP rider and teammate to Aleix Espargaro for 2021 and 2022. It is a very exciting event as it suits certain riders and will cause a bit of a psychological stir for others. Fabio Quartararo knows it is not his best circuit whilst Marc Marquez is very fast on track. It will be game playing between the top rivals and we look forward to seeing how it all unfolds. This weekend, we have Cal Crutchlow back on board with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team due to the fact that Franco Morbidelli is still unfit. From what we know, Morbidelli’s injury was complex and is taking a little longer than expected to recover after substantial surgery. Former Australian rider, Chris Vermeulen is also eager to see Morbidelli return as his knee injury forced him to retire. Due to the angle the knee is required to bend on a MotoGP bike, it is a vital muscle and area of the body required to complete the job. Therefore, recovering at the right pace and with full fitness will ensure he can enjoy and perform at the level required by his team. If he returns too early it could put major pressure on his ability to race with confidence. We feel Marquez will be at home in Aragon with the circuit and feeling strong enough to charge for a victory. So… could this be the weekend where he wins and revisits the top step? Aragon is not the most ideal track for Quartararo, with that said, he is guaranteed to push and he will find a way because this year, he has been the most consistent and dominant rider across the field.

Credit - Aprilia Racing (Maverick Vinales)

Happiness for any rider is an essential ingredient to staying in form and within title contention. The smile on Vinales face since joining Aprilia is incredible. He feels fresh, has his wife and baby by his side and a teammate that he has worked with before in a positive way. The expectation for Vinales is to bridge the gap to the front as soon as possible and adapt at a rapid pace. He is very talented, so the journey to top form on this side of 2021 is going to be very intriguing to watch as he analyses teammate Espargaro’s data to basically speed read his way through the Aprilia machine. Be sure to tune in this weekend to see how his first race with Aprilia unfolds. We have already seen Vinales in the first session be within 1.1 seconds of the leading pack which is quite remarkable considering he had literally just jumped onto the Aprilia bike with only two days of testing under his belt. The confidence is sky high and just what the Italian factory want to see. The desire is burning hot for Vinales and leaving behind his career at Yamaha is probably one of the best things he could have done because as miserable as he was, this is not the environment he needs to thrive within. Aprilia could be the card he needed to become a future World Champion. You have to respect his decision especially in comparison to how Suzuki achieved their success and World Championship after working around the clock to be competitive.

Credit - (Maverick Vinales)

Maverick Vinales:

“I'm more than excited, I’m very hungry and motivated to start this story with Aprilia. The six races ahead are just a present to prepare better for next year. Our priority is trying to learn, for sure it is very different, I need to learn a lot and learn quick. "For sure, this year set up a lot of fire inside of myself. All we want is to push. I’ve been away for a while, but I think we come back in a good way. After the two tests I feel positive to be here and get experience on a weekend and we just need to learn.”

Credit - (Aleix Espargaro)

Aleix Espargaro:

"I have a little more confidence after the Silverstone result. Obviously the podium was very important but the most important thing for me was the level we have showed at every GP, in different conditions we’re always close to the top guys so obviously now after the podium I feel a bit more relaxed. Now let’s try to do better, to keep fighting for the podium. This is a circuit that I really like, where the bike has worked quite well in the past. The weather looks better than last season, where we struggled a lot because it was cold so I can’t wait to ride the new bike here. "I’m very happy Maverick joined our team. I think he arrived in the best moment of Aprilia’s racing story. We’ve been talking for a long time with Maverick about Aprilia, about joining us in the future, but after the thing in Austria, I’m super happy he can be racing again with us. As my teammate I think we have a very strong team also with Sava in the test team role. I think the future is bright for us, obviously to improve from where we are now is not going to be easy, the level is very high, the riders ahead of me are very strong and also their machines, but the challenge is very beautiful so Maverick and I are ready to go for it!"

In terms of the Ducati riders, they are looking forward to returning to the front and also battling for victory. On one side of the garage, you have a frustrated Pecco Bagnaia and on the other side Jack Miller looking to achieve results in order to grow, develop the bike further and then hunt in 2022 for a World Championship with the Italian factory. The ideal race set up must be established early on into the weekend and comfort levels at an all-time high in order to be ready for lights out Sunday. We are cheering on Thriller Miller because the more he is at the front, the better his options are to continue being the driving force for Ducati like Casey Stoner achieved for the Italian factory. Miller has the makings of a future World Champion. The team together with Miller need to make the bike as competitive as possible regardless of which circuits suit what bike and continue to shift their machine so they can also be like Quartararo and upset the rhythm of other riders by being fast when they should not be.

Francesco Bagnaia:

"I'm happy to be back in action this weekend! During this short break after the British GP, I tried to relax, but I also continued to train with my Panigale V4 S at Misano, and now I'm ready to get back on my Desmosedici GP. The last race at Silverstone definitely didn't go as we had hoped, but, both in practice and qualifying, our bike worked well even though we were on a track that doesn't usually suit its characteristics. This weekend we will race at Aragón, where we had some difficulties last year because of the low temperatures. This year, however, we arrive a month early, and the weather is still summery. Also, the Desmosedici has shown much improvement from last season, so I'm confident that I can be among the protagonists at this Grand Prix".

Credit - (Jack Miller)

Jack Miller:

"I'm excited to be back racing at MotorLand Aragón! Last year, unfortunately, we didn't have two easy weekends at this track, but it was late October, and the low asphalt temperatures certainly didn't help. However, now it's early September, and the track conditions will be quite different from 2020. Also, the Desmosedici GP 21 has shown so far that it's competitive even on tracks where we've had a little more difficulty in the past, so I'm optimistic. In general, I like the circuit, and I've also scored a podium here, so I'm convinced that if we work well right away, we can have another good weekend here in Spain".

With the first sessions underway, Marquez is laying down the task to his opponents to chase him. Bring on the fun, games, and elbow battles. Marquez has a score to settle with himself and that is to win a race at least once in 2021. The Spanish Champion has not enjoyed the return to the sport as it has been longer than anticipated to regain full fitness, movement and also the feeling of the Honda machine. Step by step he is finding form and it is nice to see because it means the grid will have another rider to compete with and push themselves to be the best. With a MotoGP World Championship, we want to see the best rider win and right now Quartararo is that rider without a question of doubt. He is leading the Yamaha charge even when his teammates depart mid-way through by quitting and others just lacking in overall performance. If you can win whilst it is going your way, saddle up and go fast!

Marc Marquez:

“Aragon is always a track that I enjoy racing at and we have had strong results there in the past. But we can’t rely on what we did in the past, in 2021 we arrive there in a different situation so have to approach the weekend in the correct way, see our level and see what our opponents are doing. It’s great to be back racing at MotorLand after missing the rounds in 2020 and hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans. In recent races we have been closer to the front so the aim is to continue this and see what’s possible on Sunday.”

Pol Espargaro:

“I am very excited to be riding in Aragon, the weekend in Silverstone was a great one for us. In the past the Honda has been the bike I was trying to beat in Aragon and now I am riding it, so I am very interested to see what we can do together this weekend. We are arriving in a good moment after the strong Silverstone weekend and I am excited to go racing again. Let’s keep working to finish the season strongly and keep learning.”

Credit - (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo:

“Aragon is probably the worst track on the calendar, not for the Yamaha bike but for me. I have been fast there before – I got pole position last year – but I have never really been consistent. So this would be a great thing to fix. I want to learn at that track and be consistent there too.”

Cal Crutchlow:

“I enjoyed the GP at Silverstone with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. Overall, I felt like we did a good job, and I look forward to getting more laps in aboard the Factory YZR-M1, this time in Aragon. It’s not an easy track, but it’s one where I’m usually competitive at, so it will be nice to ride there and continue to add to the work we’ve done so far.”

The Suzuki outfit are a strong team and with the podium celebration from Alex Rins, they will be in fine form this weekend. Joan Mir is attempting to defend his title though the last race was a disaster and he is aiming to leave those issues behind. It is not going to be an easy task for the Spanish rider regardless of his consistent approach to each race weekend with Quartararo leading by a significant number of points. Mir has always been vocal about his feelings with the bike, so we expect to see him pushing the limits and Rins also doing the same. You have to stay positive because you never know what can happen in the sport with random injuries on and off-track or a crash leading to a loss of points. 100% focus and energy at all times. It will be the defining factor in this year’s World Championship with so many ups, downs, team changes and announcements that can take your eyes off the trophy. In comparison, Valentino Rossi is pushing to finish the season in a positive way and not end his career like Jorge Lorenzo did finishing at the back of the grid. Rossi still has the fire within his belly for points, podiums, wins and representing the Yamaha brand with his upmost dedication.

Credit - (Joan Mir)

Joan Mir:

“Aragón is a track that I really enjoy, but it’s not an easy one because many riders are competitive here. I will try to give my best and see what I can do, but for sure a repeat of last year’s podium would be really nice. Since Silverstone we have been working hard to try and better understand how to get the most out of our bike, and I feel confident. Silverstone was a bad one for me in the end, and the points gap has got bigger, but I’m second in the championship and I’m still eager to fight.”

Credit - (Alex Rins)

Alex Rins:

“I have great memories from Motorland last year, I got a really nice victory and the feeling was fantastic. It means I’m coming into this race with good motivation and confidence, especially after my result at Silverstone two weeks ago. The team and I will be working a lot to bring another top result home, and to do it in Spain is even more special. Let’s see what’s possible!”

Valentino Rossi:

“I felt good with the bike throughout all of the BritishGP, especially as in the free practices we had one of the best pace of our season. We also had a good start to the race, where I was in a place that I could fight with the fastest riders. I am hopeful that we can feel the same this weekend, but Aragon can be really demanding in terms of grip level during the whole race – especially on the rear. Although I have been on the podium a few times, I have never won there. The layout of the track is good and it’s fast, but riding it is tricky; you have to be especially smooth in this circuit to be strong at the end of the race. We will see what happens though and I’m looking forward to being back there after missing it last year.”

Credit - Pramac Racing MotoGP Team (Johann Zarco)

Who are you most excited to watch racing this weekend? For motorcycle enthusiasts, we have enjoyed watching Johann Zarco’s journey from France to Aragon on board a 1981 Ducati 900SS. The 950km journey was incredibly rewarding swapping it out from a private jet or business class air flight. A beautiful way to enjoy the countryside and way to bond with his team. Zarco looks to be in fine form for the weekend and we are excited to hopefully see a backflip if he can pull off a race win.

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