Maverick Vinales conceded that he wanted to win the Catalan Grand Prix “so bad” while tussling with Aprilia MotoGP team-mate Aleix Espargaro for victory.
Vinales was looking to break a two-and-a-half year victory drought in Barcelona having showed front-running speed across the weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, the fast and flowing venue suiting Aprilia’s RS-GP down to the ground.
With the Italian brands main external threat for victory – Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia – crashing out early on, the battle for the win came down to factory Aprilia riders Vinales and Espargaro, the former establishing a lead early on as the latter had to make up a couple positions en-route to the front.
Espargaro managed to get back up with his team-mate in the closing stages and ultimately got the best of him thanks to a stern move at Turn 1 with just four tours remaining, the Spaniard securing his second win of 2023 as Vinales was forced to play the bridesmaid once again.
The nine-time premier class race winner admitted he wanted to win “so bad”, but added that it was an “amazing feeling” battling for supremacy after a recent tricky period in his career.
“It is an amazing feeling, I wanted to win so bad but at the end Aleix (Espargaro) had a little bit more than me,” explained Vinales.
“We should be really proud of the way we are riding the bike, I felt so amazing while leading the race and felt like it was my moment.
“It was unbelievable because it’s been a long time since I last led a race, and you never lose that concentration and rhythm and it reminds me that I can do it.
“My favourite moment was arriving to parc ferme to see how the guys were enjoying everything, and seeing the joy and happiness of everyone was special.
“It’s great to have two fast riders pushing the factory forward, we pushed for something here about the starts after Austria and the factory delivered.
“It’s so good, and it allows us to dream of more.”
Vinales explained that a “destroyed” front tyre ultimately unravelled his victory bid as he struggled to carry corner speed in the closing stanza of the encounter, conceding that “this is not an excuse” and that he’d have to work out how Espargaro had managed to out-do him in this area.
“The main problem was that he (Espargaro) was fast, but the other problem was the front tyre because it was destroyed,” added Vinales.
“This is not an excuse because the other Aprilia is first with a good front tyre, so we must learn what he did better on this track but we know Aleix is always strong around this track and we improved.”