Johannesburg – Yamaha South Africa had a special treat for local MotoGP fans one earlier in December – not only did they bring Movistar Yamaha factory team rider Maverick Viñales to South Africa, but they also made him the guest of honour at the Yamaha R World track day at Kyalami.
Kodak moments with Viñales
Fans had the chance to see the rising MotoGP star in action, while track day participants had the rare opportunity to have a group photo with Viñales taken on the starting grid.
Viñales, the first MotoGP rider to ride on the new Kyalami track, started proceedings with a private test session, before doing a six-lap session during which he was joined by local National Superbike and Supersport Yamaha riders, as well as and ten lucky Yamaha customers, who earned the chance to join in on the action by buying a Yamaha R1 or R6 during 2017.
Throughout the day, Viñales, accompanied by his girlfriend, the Andorran athlete Cristina Llovera, was happy to sign autographs and answer questions from fans.
He revealed that his race number – number 25, which appears to have no obvious link to the Spanish rider – was significant in two ways: it is the number of his compatriot and role model, enduro racer Iván Cervantes, but also the maximum number of points that can be earned in a MotoGP race.
After his laps around the track on a standard, street-legal R1, which Viñales quipped felt “like riding a pit bike”, he complimented Kyalami for being fast and exciting, although he thought the run-off areas were “not the greatest”.
He also mentioned that he would be keen to ride his YZR-M1 race bike on Kyalami. Later in the day, he took Llovera for a spin around the track on a bike supplied by Superbike Magazine’s Clinton Pienaar.
After winning the Moto3 World Championship title in 2013, Viñales went from success to success, culminating in winning his debut race for Yamaha in Qatar in 2017 and also handing Yamaha their 500th Grand Prix victory in Le Mans.
With his MotoGP tenure at Yamaha secured, the future is looking very bright for the young Spanish rider.