Moto Ain recruits Vinales in place of recovering Smith for 24H SPA EWC Motos

2022-05-20T18:16:33+02:00May 20th, 2022|2022|

Spanish rider Isaac Viñales has been named as Bradley Smith’s replacement for next month’s 24H SPA EWC Motos.

The former Moto2 and Supersport World Championship racer will join French squad Moto Ain, run by Pierre Chapuis, for the second round of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship as Briton Smith recovers from injuries sustained in a crash at the start of the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April.

Viñales, the 28-year-old cousin of MotoGP ace Maverick Viñales, is new to the EWC but got the opportunity to sample the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during pre-event testing earlier this week.

He said: “The track is really spectacular. As many riders, a 24-hour endurance race has always been in a corner of my mind. This is why I went for this opportunity when Pierre told me about this project. Even if many things are new for me, I feel confident. I know the tyres but not the bike. The [Yamaha] R1 of Moto Ain misses some power compared to the superbike engines, but the chassis is safe and stable. So the adaptation has not been so difficult. The biggest challenge for the race will be to stay focused and steady all race long, especially during the stints at night.”

Viñales will link up with experienced Italian Claudio Corti and rising French star Corentin Perolari.

“Corentin and Claudio are two assets of the team,” Viñales said. “Our lap times and datas are close. And so we can improve the settings of the bike altogether with the mechanics.”

Chapuis said: “It’s always a very risky bet to take riders from MotoGP, Moto2 or Superbike. They are often very fast, but they are used to riding on the limit all the time. In endurance, in a 24-hour race, we know that you always have to have some leeway and keep a cool head. But I think these speed riders bring novelty, prestige and credit to the EWC paddock. And Isaac adapted very well to our bike and our structure.

“We have made several modifications since Le Mans. The biggest change comes from the tyres. As the manufacturers no longer help the private teams, we all have to buy the tyres. We now have to deal with economic laws to find the right performance/price compromise. Our new partner, First Stop, helps us in this regard. In the box, the mechanics therefore had to readapt and reprogram the bike with the new telemetric data. After two days of testing, the results are satisfactory. All is not perfect, but things are moving in the right direction.”

Moto Ain’s new partner, First Stop, is a tyre distribution company.