MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
What is Maverick’s secret?
The youngster is riding the crest of a wave as he heads to Texas, home to the world’s first maverick
Maverick Viñales is enjoying a golden moment; you don’t need me to tell you that. The former Moto3 world champion didn’t just win the first two races of the 69th Grand Prix season, he dominated them, twice coming from behind to win on his own terms.
His talent and daring have been on display since he arrived in the 125 class in 2011, when he barged past that year’s world champion to win a Grand Prix at his fourth attempt, at the last corner. Two years later he secured his first world title, at the last corner.
Viñales is aggressive when the situation demands, but he has a cool, steady head, so he makes sure he learns at every step, through 125s, Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. His first two seasons in MotoGP were particularly vital to his learning process because he rode a motorcycle that lacked performance against the best bikes.
When you ride a slightly below-par bike you need to dig deeper to make up the difference, so you brake an nth later, take an nth more risk tipping into the turn and grab the throttle an nth earlier, always focused on closing that gap. It’s the perfect way to learn how to ride on the very limit, and the more you ride at the very limit, the more you get used to it.
By finding a thousandth here and a thousandth there you also learn new skills: how to get away with this and how to get around that. And when the day comes that you get a better bike, you can use all those skills, pull your riding back from the edge by a fraction and suddenly you’re winning races, almost too easily. That’s where Viñales is right now.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.