MOTOGP

Viñales gets career back on track

Moto3 rider does U-turn and returns to team to see out end of season

Moto3 rider Maverick Viñales.
Moto3 rider Maverick Viñales.ANDREU DALMAU (EFE)

Moto3 rider Maverick Viñales has done an abrupt U-turn on his decision last week to leave the Blusens Avintia team before the end of this year’s championship, and will in fact compete in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the penultimate of the 2012 season.

Ahead of the Malaysian race last week, the 17-year-old rising star reached the decision that he did not want to continue with either his team or his management, blaming their lack of professionalism and the fact that, in his opinion, he has not been given a competitive bike this year.

As the first free practice sessions were getting going in Malaysia, Viñales met with organizers and informed them of his decision to bow out of the championship, despite still having a mathematical chance of winning it. He then headed back to his home in Girona, resigned to the fact that he would not be seeing out the end of the year.

The Spanish rider, however, clearly realized that he had chosen the easiest route, albeit not the wisest one. During his discussions last Friday, he made it clear that he had no problem seeing out the year with the team, which is run by his managers Ricard Jové and Raúl Romero. But in return he wanted to rip up the contract that he had signed just a few weeks before to race with them until the end of the 2014 season.

The sticking point came due to his insistence that an agreement be reached in a matter of hours, or, he said, he would not be taking part in any more races this year.

The negative response from Blusens Avintia saw him leave, a move that could be interpreted as a failure to abide by the terms of his contract. But now, aided by his lawyer, the youngster has done an about-face, and wants to take things step by step.

He will instead finish this season at the team, meeting his commitments and finding the best possible way to leave Blusens Avintia.

“Firstly I would like to publicly give my sincere apologies to those that were harmed or affected by my behavior in Sepang,” he said in a statement. “I’m here to come forward, ask for forgiveness and take responsibility for my mistakes. I have returned to continue fighting with my Avintia team for the runner-up spot in the championship. There are many people who deserve it: sponsors, technicians and the fans.

“My hasty departure from the Malaysian GP was certainly not good,” the statement continued. “But with the tension generated by my position in the team, I fell into a state of anger and frustration that was certainly not an ideal state of mind to ride a bike in — especially ride it at the limit. I made a mistake, because although I was not mentally prepared to ride the bike, I should not have left the Sepang circuit, or made such statements.

“And so, I apologize for the harm that has been accidentally caused, to all the fans, to the members of my Avintia team, to FTR, Honda, the championship promoters, and especially the sponsors of the team.”

Viñales will fly on Thursday morning to Melbourne, arriving on Thursday night. This will give him time to take part in the first free practice sessions on Friday. He will be traveling, as always, with his father, but also on this particular trip will be his lawyer, Paco Sánchez.

While Viñales was unhappy about the bike that the team had given him this year, his father also alluded to alleged deception on the part of his management team, who may have hidden or talked down offers from other teams who were interested in taking the youngster on for next season. That, according to Sánchez, could be the result of a conflict of interest given that the owners of the team have a dual role as Viñales’ managers.

By missing the race in Sepang, Viñales has practically ensured that German Sandro Cortese will take the Moto3 championship. He will now be focusing on the fight for second place, currently occupied by fellow Spaniard Luis Salom, who is eight points ahead of Viñales on the championship table.

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