It promises to be some weekend for a couple of headlines making sportsmen starting somewhat unexpected new careers. While footballer Cristiano Ronaldo makes his much-publicised debut for Manchester United at the Old Trafford stadium, Maverick Viñales will have already embarked on his new career at MotorLand Aragon
Footballers moving clubs during the season is an accepted part and parcel of the game. Moving manufacturers during the MotoGP™ season is virtually unheard of, but the Spanish rider has done just that. He makes his Aprilia debut on Friday morning after leaving the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team. Ronaldo is a proven record-breaker, while Viñales is seeking a record that only one rider has ever achieved in the 73 years of World Championship racing in the premier class.
Only Mike Hailwood has won premier class Grands Prix in the same season riding for different manufactures. Others have come close but in 1961 the rider who went on to win nine World titles set a record that has never been matched. The British rider won the third round of the Championship in the Senior TT on the Isle of Man Mountain circuit riding a Norton. Before the season ended, he joined Gary Hocking, who went on the win the Championship, in the Italian MV Agusta team. Hailwood won the Nations Grand Prix at Monza in Italy.
A year earlier another British rider came close. John Hartle finished second in the Senior TT in the Isle of Man riding an MV Agusta in what today we would call a wild card entry. He then raced the remainder of the season on a Norton, which included a win at the Ulster Grand Prix.
In 1964 Phil Read, who went on to win 125, 250 and 500cc World titles, had three podium finishes riding Matchless machinery, before swapping to Norton to win the Ulster Grand Prix on the Dundrod road circuit.
Six years later in 1970 Italian Angelo Bergamonti started the season riding an Aermacchi and then was drafted into the MV Agusta team to support Giacomo Agostini. Bergamonti scored a couple of podiums earlier in the year at Opatija and Assen on the Aermacchi before the switch. He then won the final race of the year for MV Agusta at Monjuich Park in Barcelona after finishing second behind his new team-mate at Monza two weeks earlier. Agostini, having won the title missed that final round to race in a British international event.
Viñales won the opening round of this year’s MotoGP™ World Championship under the Losail International floodlights in Qatar riding for the factory Yamaha team. Last weekend at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix at Silverstone his new teammate Aleix Espargaro brought the Aprilia team their first-ever podium finish in the MotoGP™ four-stroke era with a brilliant third place.
The stage is set for Viñales to emulate Hailwood before the end of the season. A couple of weeks ago his fellow transfer debutant Ronaldo smashed the international football goal scoring record.
It’s now your turn Maverick.