Maverick Vinales finally returned today to the levels that everyone expected him to maintain during this season on the Aprilia, in other words, in contention for the top five. Assen is the track that gave him his first podium with Aprilia in 2022 and a track that in general he has always liked very much. Today the Spaniard ended the first day of free practice with an excellent 5th time and above all with the awareness that he had found the right path astride the RS-GP.
But today's result on the track wasn’t the most important or best thing for Vinales. In fact, today a 125 bike was delivered to Maria, Luis Salom's mother, which her son Luis rode on the track, also conquering the first podium of his career. The bike in question was part of the private collection of Vinales, who decided to give this piece of history as a gift to Salom's family rather than keep it in his garage.
"I haven't said anything about it yet - explained Maverick - It was a satisfaction for me as a person. It was important that Luis' bike was at his house and not in mine. In short, with his family. I think it should stay there rather than staying in my garage. It happened that I was in my garage tidying things up, because it's something I do often, and it relaxes me. I saw it and immediately thought it should go back to its house. For me he was a great rival but also a great friend. I simply thought that the home of his bike was his home, and it was a gesture that made me feel good".
Did you inform the family?
"No, his mother Maria didn't expect anything. I just told her that a package would arrive and that I hoped she would like it. They were happy, they received it today".
It was really a nice gesture.
“I always try to do things that don’t go out to the world, to the media, because it’s a thing for myself. I sent the bike Luis rode when he was in 125cc. I bought it from the team here. I remember, I bought it from the personal assistant of Jack Miller, who was in this team, and I bought Luis’ bike and last week I sent them the bike. All these things I think are important. I have been on both sides: when you have a kid, you know how much you love this kid, so you would die for this kid. I’ve also been on the other side, to have lost someone in racing. I think it was good that this bike was at his home and not at mine. Yes, it’s nice for the museum, but at the end this bike has to be at his own house, and I just did it with my heart, like I do everything.”
Let's talk about today, you're finally back in the upper areas of the standings.
"For me, the most important thing isn't so much the result, which is in any case positive, but rather the information we gathered today after some complicated races. We kept our composure, stayed focused on understanding what was happening to the bike, and it was positive. We have great information to work with, it all comes down to that, with having good data to work with."
What kind of information have you collected?
"In the last few races, we've gathered a lot of information and it's very useful. Now we have a parameter line: if we go beyond this line with the bike, we know why the bike doesn't work and therefore we have a very useful reference. For me it's fantastic, because it allows us to set up the bike for the track faster and makes it easier for the guys in the garage to understand what to do".
So, you did some experiments.
"We found several things just to understand where we were, and this shows that we are not yet at our maximum. But this is good, having done so many experiments and understanding so many things is fantastic".
Have you ever had any doubts this season that things could be even worse?
"Honestly, I feel very good, I think I ride the bike well. I'm fit, the season has started well. I've always felt there is enormous potential with the Aprilia, but for some reason these two races didn't go well, but now I feel that we can take a step forward. After Sachsenring I was angry, but not with the team. I was angry in general because I knew it would be a good track for us. In the first free practice I was also in front, but then things went differently. But what happened is that we were able to understand a lot of things about the bike and that's fantastic for me."
"The track will improve, there will be more and more grip. I hope to qualify up front, I know I have a great pace, but I have to do a great lap, I need that, the classic crazy and perfect lap".