Maverick Viñales joins elite club

Maverick Viñales celebrating his first win with Yamaha. (Noushad Thekkayil / EFE)

The Moto GP season started last weekend with the Qatar Grand Prix. The 22 year old Spaniard Maverick Viñales became the first victor of the year, after a splendid race in semi wet conditions in his first race with Yamaha. The 2015 Rookie of the Year winner left Suzuki this summer, and joined Yamaha, after former World Champion Jorge Lorenzo parted ways with the Japanese giants.

This was Viñales’s second victory in his Moto GP career, in his third season in the competition. By winning, Viñales joined an elite club of only 19 members, to have won more than one race in Moto GP with different teams. Coincidentally the two other current members joined him the podium in Qatar, Andrea Dovizioso (Honda, 2009 and Ducati, 2016) and Valentino Rossi (Honda, 2000 and Yamaha, 2004). Besides the podium members, it is important to note that the defending champion Marc Marquez finished fourth, followed by his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Jorge Lorenzo struggled all weekend in his first race with Ducati, and only managed to finish eleventh.

This will be the first time that Viñales leads the Moto GP championship. The last time he lead any category was when he won the Moto 3 Championship in 2013. Since then he finished second in his first and only season in Moto 2 in 2014, and has finished twelfth and fourth respectively in his last two years with Suzuki.

Many experts consider “Mack” (family nickname) to be one of the favorites to win the championship this season, along with his teammate Valentino Rossi, and fellow country man Marc Marquez. The next race will be the Argentinian Grand Prix on April 9, a race that last year was won by Marquez, who will look to repeat and shorten the point differential.

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