Guintoli: “Alex reminds me a little of Kevin Schwantz!”

The Suzuki test rider sits down for a chat with after Rins' emotional debut GP win

The 2019 edition of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas will live long in the memory after Team Suzuki Ecstar finally tasted victory once again after Alex Rins ended Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda Team’s American domination over recent years.

The first victory for the Japanese factory in almost three years was celebrated wildly after the tireless efforts of those in Austin and Hamamatsu but in particular by a certain Sylvain Guintoli. sat down with the Suzuki test rider to talk through all of the emotions the Frenchman went through during the weekend, the work he and the factory have done to get to this point and what the future holds.

How did you feel after Alex’s victory in Austin?
"It was a moment rich in emotions. Right to the end, the suspense was intense, but Alex perfectly managed his race. Over the laps, he has kept a very good pace. And then, the bike was so well balanced that it really seemed to ride the bumps. We knew that this first victory was coming, because for a few months now the potential has been there. But on this circuit, it was a bit unexpected. In the end, it's a nice surprise and a relief for the whole team. In any case, it’s a very strong start!"

What do you think made the difference?
"First of all, Alex rode in a really exemplary way. We could see that he was totally confident with his bike. But this result is also the result of hard work. From himself and the team. To win at this level, a whole bunch of boxes need to be ticked.”

Where exactly has the package progressed the most?
"We now have real strengths. We saw it in Austin. Even when the tyres started to wear, the bike responded perfectly. And then this Suzuki is just excellent in the middle of the corner. Alex reminds me a little of Kevin Schwantz in the way he rides. He uses the front end a lot. With his trajectories very closed, he enters corner really quickly, right on the edge, but the bike still has this ability to turn. At the time, Kevin was riding just like that. It's a nice wink to the past and it’s somewhere Suzuki's DNA comes out.

"The GSX-RR has also progressed on the engine. At this circuit, she was even a little faster than the Yamaha. This is a point that Suzuki has worked on a lot this winter. The goal was to gain in performance, without changing the characteristics that were already excellent last year; something that is not that easy to achieve. And then the rest are details, like being confident with your chassis, plus Alex now has more experience. But it is precisely all these details that, when added together, contributed to this victory."

Dovizioso and Rossi cite Alex as one of the contenders for the title. Is this a serious opportunity this season?
“Of course! Let's not forget that last year, he was back to his best in the final rounds. He was extremely consistent in his results. He was always in the top 5, he also got podiums too. This isn’t new. Let’s wait and see how it all unfolds. There are circuits where we will be a little better, others a little less. But again, Alex looks confident. So I hope it will continue like this. We all believe in him!”

A few days ago you were in testing in Jerez. What did you work on?
"Technically, I cannot go into too much detail. We continued our work. The test team is now well established. We work on specific points. The gains are marginal, but they are important things to make a difference. We had two test days, one in the dry and one in the wet, which we took full advantage of. Again, we were able to collect a lot of information, which I hope will serve the official team for the next races."

What will your program be in the next few weeks?
"I will be at Jerez's post-race test. We will then have further tests building towards my wildcard in Barcelona. I cannot wait to find the grid and then we will use these Grands Prix to continue to develop the bike.”

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