Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Spanish, 21, Motorsport
Maverick by name…
Representatives: Aki Oji
Key partners: Yamaha, Monster Energy, Oakley
2016 ranking: New entry
Valentino Rossi has not won a MotoGP championship in seven years, yet the Italian somehow manages to continue to dominate the conversation that surrounds the sport. Promising young riders remain lumbered with the ‘next Rossi’ tag, even as the last next Rossi, Marc Márquez, has taken three of the past four world titles.
And so to the next next Rossi, Maverick Viñales, who this year joined the seven-time world champion at Movistar Yamaha, with the team immediately giving the veteran and the rookie level billing. They harbour genuine hopes that MotoGP’s first new champion since Márquez in 2013 is already on their books, and that it will happen sooner rather than later.
“We did everything to get Maverick because we thought he was the only one capable to replace Jorge [Lorenzo]’s position. And we were right. We were determined to get the best option for Yamaha’s future.” - Yamaha rider performance analyst Wilco Zeelenberg.
Unlike the sterility of Márquez’s dominance, Viñales carries himself with the flair of a younger Rossi. Like Formula One’s Max Verstappen, the Spaniard has shaken up MotoGP with a carefree, seat-of-the-pants approach that has won him as many admirers for his style as for his on-track accomplishments.
Crucially, success has come, too, with three victories in the first eight races of the 2017 season to add to the one he took at Silverstone last year. Should his form continue, a first title would not be out of reach and with it, the emergence of a major new star in an internationally popular sport. AN