Rins talks injury, rookie pressure – and his aims for 2017

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s new kid on the block looks to the season ahead

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was a title contender in Moto2™ down to the wire in 2016, eventually ending the year in third ahead of his MotoGP™ debut. After some good initial experiences with his new premier class machine, the Spaniard then suffered a big crash at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana in the post-race test on his new MotoGP machine – and in off-season first had to focus on recovery, before starting to look ahead to his rookie year in the premier class of Grand Prix racing. Rins sat down with Movistar+ as 2017 gets into gear; discussing the crash, the pressure as he moves up – and his goals for the year.

Alex Rins: “It was quite hard. I had a whole month in the corset and trying to rest, because back injuries are something to take seriously. The crash was a strange one because I fell, and then a couple of laps later my teammate, Andrea Iannone, fell in exactly the same place. We went through the telemetry trying to determine the cause but we didn’t find anything. I took the same trajectory, the front wheel locked, and I lost it.”

Rins, after getting back into some training - including some time on the dirt as his contemporaries prepared for the Superprestigio event in Barcelona - has also altered some of his program now he’s in MotoGP™; discovering the different challenge of the top category.

Alex Rins: “The physical side plays a much bigger role in MotoGP™ than in Moto2™. We already saw that in Valencia. I ended the first day a bit tired and we changed my training routine to get a bit stronger – and be able to handle the MotoGP machine more easily.”

The Spaniard isn’t the only one who now faces a new challenge. Whereas 2016 saw one rookie take to the stage full-time, Rins will be one of four making the leap from Moto2™ this year. Former adversaries in the intermediate class Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and double Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will also line up – giving Rins a clear objective.

Alex Rins: “From what I saw in Valencia, the goal will be to end the season Rookie of the Year – and beat the riders I was racing against in Moto2™. That’s the goal I’m giving myself at the moment. Maybe when I’ve done more laps and I’m more settled in, it will change – top 15, top 10…I have no idea.”

Rookie of the Year was a prize taken in 2015 by the man Rins has now replaced at Suzuki - MotoGP™’s most recent new winner, and the man who just beat him to the 2013 Moto3™ crown: Maverick Viñales. Boots that his compatriot is aware could be big to fill, yet Rins is more than ready to try.

Alex Rins: “Obviously it’s going to be a lot of pressure, because I’m replacing Maverick at Suzuki. And I have always been racing him and battling with him in the smaller categories. And in Moto2™, he left Paginas Amarillas HP40 and I joined them, so there’s always been a bit of comparison. But hopefully that will continue in MotoGP™ due to me having had two incredible seasons. I’ll try to equal what he did – or even beat it.”