Top Gun Maverick Viñales blasts over MotorLand skies
Maverick Viñales emulated his namesake as he took to the skies in an F18 ahead of the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon.
Children dream of being MotoGP riders and fighter pilots, the thrill and sense of danger from racing around at high speeds capturing minds around the world. Ahead of the Aragon GP Maverick Viñales had an aerial baptism as he swapped his GSX-RR for the F-18, capable of reaching over 2,100 kilometers per hour.
Viñales arrived at Zaragoza air base on a Suzuki superbike, but even the power of this would soon pale in comparison to the F-18. Captain J. Barcala briefed Viñales for over an hour, teaching him the ins and outs of how to cope with the extreme G-forces produced by a fighter jet. The Suzuki rider was given extra tips by the ALA-15 Unit who welcomed the MotoGP star as one of their own.
Then it was time to take to the skies in the F-18 with ALA-15. A one-hour flight was filled with acrobatics and combat simulations before a trip to the Aragon MotorLand circuit. The drive from Zaragoza to Aragon usually takes a little over an hour and a half, but in the F-18 took a little under ten minutes. Mechanics are used to the roar of 1000cc MotoGP machines, but even they found themselves stepping away from setup to look towards the skies, snapping some photos of Viñales in his F-18.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Viñales, even after years of racing the most advanced motorcycles in the world at breakneck speeds, had to make use of the inflight sick bags. “It was the best experience of my life, nothing can compare to this even when I was World Champion in Moto3. It’s a really unique experience and nothing else compares, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. I feel very privileged to have received this wonderful experience.”
Maverick Viñales – “Misano was a very tricky weekend. I had many expectations from testing and when you have expectations it is always tricky because you get easily upset when you get disappointed. In fact I struggled to find good confidence with my GSX-RR with the basic set-up we developed a few weeks before and this got me very nervous, which makes things worse. I spoke a lot with my team and I tried to calm down, in order to stay focused for the race. Unfortunately the variable weather conditions messed-up everything and we had to improvise. I know I can rely on very expert engineers and managers but we are a new team also when it comes to manage the various strategies ‘on-the-go’ so we had to strengthen our feeling with the bike very quickly.
“It’s been positive as we now have much more knowledge about the machine in variable conditions and more confidence with each other. This is a further step that I have completed in my apprenticeship this year: not only improving my riding style but also managing the varied situations in a race. In Aragon we will keep on with this approach, we already know the track since we tested here a few weeks ago and I hope the conditions will be pretty similar, so that we can exploit the work we’ve done in testing. Now it is important to us to find more quickly the effectiveness with my machine and to exploit its potential at its best. We know what we lack, the factory is working hard to deliver us new parts and improvements as soon as possible; and we must keep on working.”
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