Aprilia Team Manager Paolo Bonora: Now we’re waiting for Maverick’s time

Aprilia Team Manager Paolo Bonora explains to Neil Morrison how the factory has nurtured Maverick Viñales to a level where he is a MotoGP contender once again.

Would it be fair to say Mack is back? If not now, then top figures at Aprilia are confident it won’t be long until Maverick Viñales is on the top step of the podium once more, in part thanks to a good deal of patience and a careful strategy of man-management.

It hadn’t been an easy start to life in Aprilia colours for the enigmatic Catalan. He finished higher than tenth just twice in his first 13 races aboard the RS-GP, a bike that could currently be hailed as the most rounded package on the grid, and one that could yet win this year’s championship with teammate Aleix Espargaro.

But the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was vindication for the faith Aprilia has shown in the former Moto3 World Champion. While his performance lacked a touch of composure in the critical moments, it was the first time Viñales was clearly the fastest rider on track in any race since his explosive exit from Yamaha this month a year ago.

What’s more, the 27-year old mentioned he had “started laughing” when up front, fighting among the Ducatis of Francesco Bagnaia, Jack Miller and Jorge Martin. It has been quite some time when Viñales has appeared so comfortable and content both on the bike and off it.

Aprilia deserve as much praise for getting Viñales to this point as the rider does. As Race Manager Paolo Bonora revealed, the Noale factory has worked particularly hard to ensure its rider feels the full trust of the technicians around him – that and relieving him of the excessive pressure he was placing on himself – no easy task.

After Viñales’ stirring second place at Silverstone, Motomatters caught up with Bonora to discuss the technical changes that led to the #12 scoring back-to-back podiums, as well as the efforts to make him feel welcome in the Italian team.

Q: I guess Maverick’s performance at Silverstone proved satisfying that not only Aleix is competitive with your bike. Was this the ultimate confirmation that this year’s RS-GP is one of the grid’s top bikes?

Paolo Bonora: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. In the Sachsenring race we saw Maverick made a step with his confidence on the bike. Despite the ride-height device problem, he was in the fighting positions. From there we’ve seen that we found something with him and his mood was better and better. At the moment, it’s very helpful for us having Viñales in such a good situation. As you saw at Assen and today he did a great job. Thinking about the championship, it’s very useful to have both riders with good race pace, good performance. Each rider helps the other. There were a few corners where Viñales did better than Aleix and other corners where Aleix did better than Viñales. They are a help for each other. Also for us, it’s important because we have a lot of data to check. Before, there was a bigger gap between the two riders. This year, we have both riders at a very good performance level. It’s helpful also for the technicians and engineers.

Q: Earlier in the season you said one challenge was ensuring Maverick could ride without pressure. You saw him putting too much expectation on himself. How have you managed this?

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Comments

I don't think justice is quite the right word but it would certainly be poetic if Vinales pulled the point(s) from Fabio which gave Aprilia and Aleix the title over Yamaha. However, if or when Mav does win a race on the Aprilia I think we'll see a lot of congratulations across the paddock and Jarvis might just be the first.

But I still think Mav's a highly-talented flake who's going to implode at some point. Hope I'm wrong, we need another consistently fast guy at the front.

Sadly, I agree. Just waiting........

Mark

I thought Vinales was the real deal only at the start of the 2017 season, when he was fast in preseason testing and started the season winning.  I thought at the time that his victory over Rossi in Le Mans -- in a last lap battle when Rossi took the lead but crashed out a few corners from the end -- was going to be "the turning point" for Vinales when he really became a presence at the front, fighting with Marquez for championships.   But it never happened.  Vinales has never, ever been relevant in fighting for the championship.  In 2017 and subsequent years, Dovi fought Marquez, Lorenzo on the Ducati and even Petrucci fought Marquez, occasionally Fabio or a Suzuki rider, but never Vinales.   I can't see building a MotoGP race team around a guy and his "mood."  And the way he exited Yamaha was shameful.

I like good racing so I hope to see Vinales fighting for wins (he'll need to understand overtaking and race starts better for that to happen), and of course he has heaps of talent.  All these MotoGP riders do.  Heck I was in awe of Iker Lecuona on the KTM, he's a relative afterthought when it comes to MotoGP riders but boy he could ride.   

Anyway, I'll believe it with Vinales when I see it.

 

After his rookies season in 2015 Vinales finished...2016 Suzuki 4th, 2017-2019 Yamaha 3rd, 4th, 3rd. Only beaten by Marquez, Rossi, Lorenzo and Dovi. 2020 he beat Fabio and Rossi but not Franco. 2021 we know. Marc won by...2017 - 37 points, 2018 - 76 points, 2019 - 151 points. 2017 was a great season for Dovi, 6 wins, but other than that he just happened to be the best of the poor rest. Unfortunately the battles are rare...but worth it nonetheless.

From the first time I watched a Maverick interview, he has always been, to me, Mandy Patinkin's character from Princess Bride.

I have to admit I have never been a Vinales fan, but maybe he has only been riding left handed prior to Aprilia!

^St Steve and mtib, that is brilliant. Maverick successful? Conceivable. You keep a-using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

;)

I think Vinales is back on track and coming good. Same person, but in a situation that is ideal. The bike, the Team, the everything. I'm happy for him. I like a "feel good story." I see Yamaha pretty negatively since about when Lorenzo left for Duc. 

Loving Aleix, Vinales, and the program. Happy for all of us that we get two more Aprilias on the grid. Unhappy that Fernandez gets one, not sitting right - that whole ongoing saga w he and KTM is a blight. Black went up, Blue went down. Orange went astray, Suzuki went away. Red went to the front, Honda got its due. 

Tumultuous!

Here comes Red/Bagnaia to charge to a Championship. Bastianini Red next yr, and tucked in behind Pecco to finish the season strong. Martin will waver, he is a bit shifty.

Next yr Duc has all their ducks in a row. A Red Armada of one bike Spec. All Italian Factory outfit, they won't be beat. This wknd = Red podium. 

"Black went up, Blue went down. Orange went astray, Suzuki went away. Red went to the front, Honda got its due."

Love it 'Shrink!

BTW, re: Mav, can you root from the fence? I see a touch of madness in his newfound, constant grin. My .02. ;)

necessary, you caught it all in one sentence. Poetry, baby!  :)  If it weren't for Fabio, blue would be nowhere.

And the field's positions are relevant in the fact that the field is so tight. I am sad that Dovi couldn't make the cut in this latest version of MotoGP, and yet he is barely a second (or two) off the leader. In earlier times, a second down might be 5th place, not the tail end of the field! And so with Franco Morbidelli. As an aside, I appreciated Franky's world view.

I still have a gut feeling that Michelin consistency is not all that it could be, but the riders are under that gag order. It's played well into Mr. Ezpeleta's plan, so far. But that's just my opinion, from the peanut gallery.

I have a question; did Alex Marquez do so well in his first season because he had the undivided attention of the HRC engineers? Was it the bike? A combination of both?

Agree with all of the above,  talent, awesome revival, etc etc, but deep down he reminds me of JK.  As fragile as a 2 2bob watch.

I would like to find out that I am wrong and MV is able to fight with the best of them for a few years into the future, it would also highlight the attributes of the team manager Paolo, who has the patience and courage to take on someone like MV.