Has Viñales been playing the smart game at Mugello?

Maverick Viñales could be a dark horse on race day, and he knows his strong pace could give him the edge over his rivals on Sunday

A seventh place for Maverick Viñales may not sound like much to shout about for the Spaniard, but he may well be in with a chance of stealing a podium away from what has been a consistent Gran Premio D’Italia Oakley. The 24-year-old has made the front row at Mugello in every season besides his Rookie year, so will be eager to make up for the qualifying position on Sunday afternoon during the race.

Viñales’ trademark attribute has been to have extremely strong late race pace, whilst his weakness has been having poor race starts and then charging hard too late on during the race. However, besides the French Grand Prix when he was taken out, his pace at COTA and Jerez – again from off of the front row – was one of the strongest in the field. If he makes a clean start to the race, Viñales could take his first win since the impressive performance he put in at the Australian Grand Prix in 2018.

Speaking after qualifying, Viñales stated: “The pace is really good but starting seventh is always very difficult, very tough. We’re going to try make a good start and have a good first few laps. We’ve been working really hard this weekend on the first laps. Anyway, the race is different, and we’ll see where we are.”

Speaking about the bike’s handling and how he feels going into the race on Sunday, Viñales said: “The bike is moving a lot. I’m struggling with the bike, I’m fighting every lap. Luckily, physically I’m good and I think I can arrive at the end of the race in a good condition but it’s going to be tough. It’ll be a long race with many bikes, many overtakes, so we have to be smart and control the tyres.”

Viñales has a strong record at Mugello, never finishing outside of the top eight positions, however only one podium has come to fruition for him in the MotoGP™ class. The Spanish rider has only achieved one podium in 2019 too and will be yearning to get back on the box in what is set to be one of the most exciting races of the season.

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