Le Mans: Viñales’ rise to fame

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Le Mans 2011 was when Maverick Viñales arrived with a bang. In only his fourth ever world championship race, the then rookie took his first victory to put him firmly on the MotoGP map.

One year ago, Blusens Avintia’s Viñales was a name that few non-MotoGP regulars were very familiar with. One of his then team sponsors, Paris Hilton, was what the team was predominantly known for. However, it was Le Mans 2011, which proved the setting for a career-changing day for the Spanish youngster, as he took his maiden victory in the last year of the 125cc class.

He subsequently continued to enhance his reputation with a further three victories that season at Assen, Sepang and Valencia, along with a further five podium finishes. This led not only to a third place championship finish, but also won him the title of Rookie of the Year.

With the only two riders to beat him that season, champion Nico Terol and runner-up Johann Zarco, moving up to the Moto2™ category, Viñales was all of a sudden in the position of championship favourite for the new Moto3™ category.

And so far he has not disappointed. After successful pre-season testing he took the first win of the 2012 season at Qatar, sixth place in Jerez, and a hard fought second in Estoril. In his short career he has now amassed five victories and 11 podiums, and currently sits only two points behind Red Bull KTM Ajo’s current championship leader Sandro Cortese – a gap he could overturn with victory at the historic French circuit.

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