Viñales returns: "We have suffered a lot"

‘BatMav’ etched his name into the history books in Austin following an emotional return to the Sunday top step

Pole position, Tissot Sprint win, race win. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) manufactured the perfect weekend at the Americas GP and in doing so became the first rider in the MotoGP™ era to win on three different types of machinery. ‘BatMav’ has returned. And in some style too.

“Never give up”

Before we go any further, let’s hit reverse and back up to the 2021 Styrian GP for a moment. Viñales and Yamaha’s relationship ended abruptly at the Red Bull Ring in circumstances that no one could have predicted. That moment could have signalled the end of Viñales’ MotoGP™ career. Thankfully, it didn't. 

“Now, looking back to when I didn’t know what to do, you should never give up. In Austria, I didn’t know what to do.” A clip from’s UNSEEN with Viñales following his win in Austin captures these words of realisation.

Viñales has climbed back up the premier class ladder from rock bottom. With the help of Aprilia, his family and sheer grit to succeed again, the Spaniard has gone from being jobless and staring never winning again in the face to doing what every rider craves on a daily basis: winning. 

The perfect weekend

The signs were there in Portimao. A debut Sprint win was richly deserved before a gearbox issue cost Viñales a chance of standing on the podium on Sunday at the Portuguese GP. Most wondered if that form would continue in the USA. It did. 

Earning pole position by 0.3s was a statement. Leading from lights out to chequered flag in the Sprint and winning by 2.2s was an even bigger gauntlet thrown down ahead of Sunday’s main event. Two Sprint victories in the first three races were excellent, but it’s the 25-point haul that riders and teams thirst for.

And it’s not that Viñales backed up his weekend dominance with the most important weekend accolade on Sunday afternoon. It's how his historic win was clinched that left millions wide-eyed. Going from being P11 on Lap 1 to the win doesn’t happen often, but Viñales made passing multiple World Champions look like a walk in the park. Zero panic, zero mistakes. In the end, it was a comfortable, commanding victory that handed the 29-year-old the coveted honour of winning with three different manufacturers.

Emotions flow

But this win meant more than 25 points. Just under three years ago when the fallout unfolded at the Red Bull Ring, that achievement was lightyears away. That’s why, when speaking to Spanish broadcaster DAZN, Viñales couldn't hide his emotions. 

“I have no words... It has been very hard up to this point. We have suffered a lot,” said Viñales. “My family knows it well. All the effort I have put into this has been rewarded in the end, so I am very happy. Of course, I really want to hug my wife and my girls, who suffered with me.

“In Austria I didn't know whether to stop, not run anymore, and now I'm at the top of everything. It only teaches me one thing: you don't have to give up, trust in yourself and keep growing,” continues Viñales, reiterating the point about experiencing such a low in 2021.

“This has been a historic feat and I want to thank every person who has given me their strength because there have been moments when I have wanted to throw in the towel, but I have always had enough support to continue believing and continue getting up every morning to give it my all… There is a lot of sacrifice, many long nights of thoughts and for this it is worth giving everything and risking everything.”

Just the beginning?

Just like Batman, Viñales has returned. We've been made to wait a while, but how good has it been to witness performances like that from the Spaniard? Now though, as the MotoGP™ circus prepares for the annual European tour, the #12 and Aprilia need to prove that Portimao and Austin weren’t just a flash in the pan.

And to be honest, it certainly doesn’t feel like Rounds 2 and 3 were the only two superhero performances we’re going to see from Viñales this year. This looks, sounds and smells different to previous years. Aprilia and their cape-draped star will be hoping they continue flying high throughout 2024, starting in Jerez.