MCN's MotoGP rider of the year: 5th Maverick Viñales

Published: 19 December 2016

MCN’s Sports Desk rank the five riders who have impressed them most in the MotoGP World Championship during the 2017 season.

5th - Maverick Viñales

  • Best result: 1st
  • Wins: 1
  • Podiums: 4
  • Championship position: 4th

2016 was a very important year for young Maverick Viñales, with the 21-year-old Spaniard finally getting the chance to prove what we all suspected – that he’s more than just another fast kid and that he might just be capable of breaking through and becoming a genuine MotoGP alien in 2017.

He’s still proving at times that he’s far from a finished package – like in Argentina, when he threw away the chance for a debut podium finish by crashing out when he maybe didn’t need to be pushing as hard as he was. But he’s a fast learner, and the lessons he took from that crash were evident to see later in the season, especially at Le Mans, when an intelligent race did deliver podium success.

But it was Silverstone when he finally displayed the sort of potential that we all suspected he might be capable of, with a stunning flag-to-flag victory. Looking almost untouchable on what aligned into a perfect combination of a track that suited both him and Suzuki GSX-RR, the win was a big statement. 

But his season was blighted by performance issues, too, thanks to the Suzuki package’s seeming hatred of wet conditions. Struggling all year to find an electronics setting that would allow him and teammate Aleix Espargaró to push in the rain, it precluded any hopes of adding to his Silverstone win at places like Assen or Phillip Island that should have been perfect for him.

And while 2016 was impressive for him, 2017 is bursting with potential. Fastest at the end-of-season Valencia test on his first time out on the Yamaha and tipped by many of his opposition to be one of the men to beat in the new year, one thing is certain – there are bright times ahead for Viñales.