“We predict Viñales will not be exactly Valentino’s best friend.” This was the answer that someone in Rossi’s circle gave us, along with a wry smile, when asked how the relationship between Valentino and his new partner in the box was going to be. A comment done after the one of Viñales at Motegi after Valentino made the pole following his wheel: “He’s already starting to piss me off.”
In just a few days Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales will stop being the “buddies” that they have been up to now, because Tuesday after the Valencia GP they will become teammates. And as we all know too well by now, in MotoGP the term “teammate” must always be understood in quotes, without the slightest connotation of affection or closeness between the two. In the World Championship the word “teammate” is nothing more than the fact that there is another person on the other side of the box who we must beat at all costs to be taken seriously…and Rossi knows this very well.
For the veteran superchampion, the arrival of Viñales is somewhat of a déjà vu: “Here we go again!” Maverick’s arrival must be like a trip back in time, a flash back to 2008 when a 20 year old Jorge Lorenzo joined the Yamaha box intent to kick a Rossi in the pinacle of his glory off the throne … And Viñales arrives with the same intention. The ironic part of this situation is that “Valentino Rossis’s new Jorge Lorenzo” will sit on the very same bike Jorge Lorenzo is currently on.
While they are very different in character, Lorenzo and Viñales clearly share the same objectives; well, one objective. When Jorge joined MotoGP in 2008, his attention was reserved exclusively for Valentino Rossi, then the absolute reference. And we all know the story: Pole at the first three GPs and a victory in his third race…But in his rush to climb the throne he paid being victim of some nasty crashes. Some were so painful that he nearly withdrew from the sport. But he persevered, and ended up not only dethroning king Rossi, but managed to take over the box that until his arrival had been the undisputed property of Valentino.
“Only one can win, there is only one winner, so it’s impossible that next season Valentino and I both finish first,” Maverick Viñales
Viñales comes to Yamaha in a different state. His main rival is not Rossi but a different obsession: Marc Marquez. “Honestly, Marc has been and is more than n objective,” declared Maverick recently. “Looking at his track record and his achievements it is more something like: ‘Oh, if he’s can do that, I can too’. In the future I see myself fighting for the championship against Marc.” At 22, Viñales is very clear that both Rossi and Lorenzo have expiration date for him. His true rival, the one he will fight with for all titles in the next ten years, is Marc Márquez.
For Maverick, Valentino “is nothing more than a teammate”, i.e., the first guy to beat, a compulsory task. “I’m moving to Yamaha to win the MotoGP title, not to beat Rossi,” said the Catalan rider in Sepang a few weeks ago. “It’s exactly the same approach I had with Suzuki, where I’ve wanted to win races and not just beat Aleix .Obviously to win races I had to beat Aleix and everyone else. Only one can win, there is only one winner, so it’s impossible that next season Valentino and I both finish first.”
We can imagine that for Rossi the arrival of “another Spaniard” has become a kind of recurring nightmare.…Lorenzo, Marquez and now this Viñales…What a pain these Spaniards are! In reviewing this list, one is called to notice the fact that Valentino has always been on the other side. A generation of young guns has been coming one after another and Rossi has always been there and has always been the one to beat. A situation that, having been going on for so long, it seems normal, but if you think about it just a little, it is amazing…Valentino has incredible merit.
Unlike Lorenzo, who came to Yamaha directly from the lower classes and therefore had no experience in MotoGP, Viñales brings along two years of experience in his backpack.
Returning to the arrival of Viñales to the Yamaha box, statements by Uccio appeared in a Spanish newspaper – MARCA – in which Valentino’s bestie warns that Maverick should not expect a friendly relationship in the Yamaha box, quotes which obviously haven’t been well received in the “House of Viñales”. “Don’t ever trust those who say they have your poster in their room, like Stoner, Marquez and Viñales (in this case ‘your poster ‘ is obviously referring to Valentino). “I have the utmost respect for Maverick, but he needs to be over there and us, over here. Friendship is for home. We have to pay attention and be respectful at the track, and also off of it, but friendship is something else.”
Unlike Lorenzo, who came to Yamaha directly from the lower classes and therefore had no experience in MotoGP, Viñales brings along two years of experience in his backpack. He had his MotoGP learning curve has with Team Suzuki and everyone agrees that when he climbs aboard the bike that Lorenzo rode for the last nine years—seven of them alongside Rossi – he will have title contender status. “The times I have been with Valentino and/or Jorge on the track, I sense that the behavior of the Yamaha is almost identical to the Suzuki, both under braking and acceleration or on the straights. I’m sure I will adapt quickly to the Yamaha.” … So, is Viñales Valentino Rossi’s new Jorge Lorenzo or not?