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November 11, 2013 | By MotoGP.com
Maverick Vinales is a shining example of how consistency can win a world title. A firm favourite for the Moto3 crown before the season ever began, the Team Calvo rider may have only clinched three victories this year but has failed to finish on the podium on only two occasions.
It is difficult to believe that 2013 marked only a third World Championship campaign for Vinales, who debuted in the final year of the 125 class in 2011. Riding an Aprilia for the Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing team, he was instantly on the pace and earned both a front row start and a victory at only his fourth event in France. He would go on to clinch another three wins before the season was up, including the final two Grands Prix of the season in Malaysia and Valencia. He ended the year third.
In fact, the Catalan has never finished outside the top three of any World Championship season he has contested. In 2012, he could have fought Sandro Cortese for the inaugural Moto3 title, as Vinales began the year with a win in Qatar and would also triumph in half of the next eight races. However, the second part of the season in particular was dogged by a series of technical issues with his Blusens Avintia bike – not least in Aragon, as he theatrically stomped away from his FTR Honda following a failure on the Warm-Up lap. This was followed by a public walkout from the team, only to return and finish second at the next round in Japan. As Cortese won the title in Malaysia, Viñales would end the season third – pipped to second place by Luis Salom in perhaps what was a taster of things to come for 2013.
Thanks to his impressive form of the previous two years, Vinales was a natural championship favourite heading into the Moto3 season of 2013. However, there was a setback when the Roses-born rider crashed in Jerez during pre-season testing, losing part of a finger in the process. Nevertheless, he went on to rack up an amazing ten rostrum finishes from the first ten races, in the process just missing out on a new record. This run included wins in Spain and France, but was brought to an end by just fractions of a second as he was beaten to third place at Silverstone by Alex Marquez. More podiums followed at Misano, MotorLand Aragón, Phillip Island and Motegi, interspersed only by a fifth place at Sepang which proven to be his worse result in what was still a remarkably consistent World Championship challenge.
Viñales was thrown back into title contention at the Japanese Grand Prix, in which he finished second while title rivals Salom and Rins both sensationally crashed out of action. The title went the way of Vinales in Valencia a fortnight later, winning in Valencia by beating Rins at the final corner, while Salom had dropped out of the lead through an unforced error. For 2014, Vinales will partner Salom as the duo step up to Moto2 with Sito Pons’ Tuenti HP 40 outfit.
A few facts about Maverick Vinales:
Vinales has finished on the podium 15 times in 2013, which equals the record for most podium finishes in a single season in the Moto3/125 class, set by Sandro Cortese last year
He is the tenth Spanish rider to win the 125cc/Moto3 world title, joining: Angel Nieto (1971/72/79/81/82/83/84), Jorge Martinez (1988), Alex Criville (1989), Emilio Alzamora (1999), Dani Pedrosa (2003), Alvaro Bautista (2006), Julian Simon (2009), Marc Marquez (2010) and Nico Terol (2011)
He is the first rider ever in the lightweight class of Grand Prix racing to have 17 finishes in the top five during a single season