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8 days ago
By motogp.com

When Vermeulen met Viñales

From Le Mans 2007 to Silverstone 2016 – the two most recent winners with Suzuki swap notes

Flashback: When Viñales met Vermeulen

Chris Vermeulen won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans in 2007 – which until 2016 stood as the most recent Suzuki victory in the premier class of Grand Prix racing. Then came Maverick Viñales. Impressive as a rookie upon Suzuki’s return to the MotoGP™ paddock as Team Suzuki Ecstar, this season saw the Hamamatsu factory back on the top step as Viñales won his first race – an incredible chapter in a historic 2016.

Chris Vermeulen: “After Maverick won I was so happy and a lot of media called me and they said: Are you excited about it or are you disappointed? I said the only thing I’m disappointed about is that it took so long for Suzuki to get another win.”

The drought may have been nine years, but since the factory’s return – first as a wildcard in Valencia 2014 – it was a season and a half for the factory to leap from underdog to podium contender - week in, week out.

Maverick Viñales: “For sure I’m really happy and also proud of the work what we did with the team. From one bike that was quite far when we arrived, and now we are consistently on the front. So it’s a lot of work, but we did it really well.”

CV: I think from that point of view, with Suzuki being out for a few years and coming back to the highest level they’ve been in a long time, it shows how good a factory they are and how competitive they can be. Also Davide Brivio and the whole team, they did a fantastic job and they run it first class, so it’s really good to see.”

So how does it feel to win a race – against what would have been considered a safe bet?

MV25: “It was awesome, an awesome feeling, because when you didn’t expect to win it’s so good.”

CV: “I had the same thing in Le Mans, when it was wet, and we struggled and then came to a win. For a small Factory like Suzuki it means…I think for me it means more than to win with the Yamaha and the Honda. Same for you?”

MV25: “It means a lot because last year was so difficult, we were struggling a lot and this year we are doing really good races. We are in the top 4-5 in nearly all the races so that’s really good.”

As well as top five and top four – and a win and podium results – Viñales is still in with a shot at taking third in the Championship in 2016 – from the man he is set to replace at Movistar Yamaha MotoGP next season: Jorge Lorenzo.

CV: What’s your target for the Championship? Do you think you can get to the top?”

MV25: “I will try to get third, but it’s going to be difficult. With fourth, we are really happy already.”

Highlights: Brilliant runaway win for Viñales