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MotoGP, Vinales: "Replacing Aleix will be difficult, but I don't know if I will still be in Aprilia"

"Espargaró is one of the toughest teammates I've had, and it won't be easy to fill the void after he retires, as he has shouldered the development of the last seven years. I don't know what it will be like, especially since I don't have a contract for 2025."

MotoGP: Vinales:

This weekend at Montmeló is a special one for Maverick Vinales and the entire Aprilia Racing team. Not only because it is the home race of Top Gun and his teammate Aleix Espargaró, dominators of the Round last season, but also because the Noale team captain announced just today his retirement at the end of the season. News greeted with some astonishment by Vinales, as he himself told a press conference.

"I honestly didn't expect it, I thought he would continue," Maverick admitted, "It's an important part of my work on the track, but if he made this decision it's because he feels that way and I just want to say that it was a pleasure to be his teammate. He's been one of the toughest teammates I've had, and I've had some big names next to me, but he's always been hard to beat. I wish him the best, but the season is still long, so I think he will be very motivated and want to get some wins. If he is fast it will definitely help me a lot."

It is hard to say what will change in the Aprilia box after Aleix's departure, but Top Gun is certain that it will not be easy to replace a figure of his caliber.

"I don't know what it will be like when Aleix leaves, because at the moment I don't have a contract and I don't know if I'll be there or not," he noted, "In any case, he will definitely leave a void that will be difficult to fill, because for the last seven years he has been carrying the full weight of development and the Factory Aprilia, which is a difficult load to manage."

Returning to the weekend ahead, the Spaniard believes he has another great opportunity at his home track, although this year will be different from last season.

"Last year's Grand Prix at Montmeló was extraordinary for Aprilia, we were on another level, however, every year is different and from my point of view we will have to approach the weekend calmly. It will be important to be ready for any condition, but we come here certainly thinking that we can do it, that we can fight for the win and win, however we will have to remember that it is a completely different season, that the tires are totally different than in 2023 plus our rivals are also very competitive right now," he stressed , "We will still try to make the most of what we have, and if I have an opportunity, I will try to take it no matter what. So we just have to remember that when we take the bike to the maximum, we are capable of winning and that is what we will try to do here."

Despite the fact that some of his colleagues find the RS-GP complex, Maverick believes he has everything he needs to get the best out of the Veneto bike.

"The Aprilia is not an easy bike, it is very demanding from a physical point of view and if you are not good from that point of view you resist for five laps (laughs). The first few races were very hard, but now I have the bike in my hand," he commented, "There are times when I can do what I want, and others like at Le Mans, when I didn't have enough feeling but I gave it my all with what I had. I can really get the most out of the bike and I'm working to get even more out of it, so I'm maybe at a different stage than my colleagues."

Reaching this level, however, took quite some time for the Spanish rider, who explained what was the key to the marked step forward made this year.

"To understand the bike better, I needed to have the right crew chief next to me. In 2022 I didn't understand anything about it, and Manuel arrived in 2023, so if he had arrived a year earlier it probably would have been easier for me to look already last season for what we found this year," he explained. "It was a matter of understanding, not so much on the track as the data in the box, and timing in understanding what the bike needed to meet my riding style. I tried every time to adapt to the bike, but to take a step forward and win it needed the bike to adapt a little bit more to my style, and my crew chief understood that very well. It took a few races, but he did it very well."


Translated by Julian Thomas

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