Maverick Viñales says that his first test with Aprilia is “probably the happiest I've been on a MotoGP bike all my life”.
Viñales has now ridden the RS-GP for two days around Misano, and will make an early race debut by contesting the six remaining rounds of the 2021 MotoGP season for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
The Spaniard had already negotiated an early release from Yamaha which would have taken effect once the current campaign had concluded.
However, that became an immediate termination after his frustrations boiled over in the Michelin Grand Prix of Styria and he apparently tried to damage the engine in his M1.
Speaking after the Misano test with Aprilia, Viñales said, “This is probably the happiest I've been on a MotoGP bike all my life, because after five years doing ups and down and not understanding many things, at the end you ask ‘what is going on?'
“But as soon as I jumped on the Aprilia, I knew my potential and what I was able to do.
Viñales spent just over four-and-a-half years at Yamaha in the end, after his first two in the premier class at Suzuki.
Both of those manufacturers use inline engines, meaning the Aprilia he rode at Misano was his first MotoGP experience with a V4.
However, he lapped as quickly as a 1:32.4s at the San Marino Grand Prix circuit, all but matching his fastest race lap (1:32.484s) from last year's two rounds there.
“Honestly I went [into the test] without expectation, because you never know how the bike is going to react,” said Viñales.
“But I have to say that I was a bit nervous because I'd never tried a different engine.
“Basically, the bike has a really [good] handling engine which is very important also for a long race.”
The switch to Aprilia reunites the 26-year-old with Aleix Espargaro, with whom he shared the Suzuki garage for those two years.
Viñales believes he has to learn a new style of braking from his compatriot.
“What I need to change is the way of braking is a bit different,” explained #12.
“This is a big learning process because the way that you can brake with the Aprilia is totally different and for this I will need more laps.
“And also, Aleix is very hard braking and I will need to learn a little bit from him how he does that strong braking.
“But I think this will come with confidence. This is the important point.”
The Aragon Grand Prix, which represents Viñales' race debut with Aprilia, takes place on September 10-12.