It was a dramatic Spanish GP at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, but it was also a landmark for Hamamatsu factory Suzuki. Taking their third podium in a row for the first time in ten years as Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) fought off Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) for P3, this season has seen a big turnaround for the team after a more difficult 2017 - and it's the same story for the rider.
“I think today we were lucky for sure, but throughout the weekend I think we’ve shown really good potential,” says Iannone. “We were lucky, and it was unfortunate for Dani, Dovi and Jorge, but for sure I’m happy about this result and the second podium in a row for me with Suzuki. It’s a good moment for us.”
That it is. From Alex Rins on the rostrum at Termas de Rio Hondo to Iannone at COTA and in Jerez, the factory are on a roll. One down side of that could be a loss of concessions from next season if the form continues – with a podium-free 2017, the Hamamatsu factory had earned them back – but that is far from Iannone’s mind after his second podium in a row, and far from the thoughts of a manufacturer now establishing more and more their ability to fight at the front consistently. With four factories now able to do that, things are tight at the top.
“It’s the first time for me to have two podiums in a row, but I want to continue to improve with Suzuki,” affirms the ‘Maniac’, aim still squarely high. “I’m not happy with third and I want to recover the gap to the best riders completely. That’s the goal for me and Suzuki, and we’ll fight for it.”
That’s in little doubt, as fighting for it has often been the calling card for Iannone. And despite the late dash of luck and the solid pace in Spain, it wasn’t an easy race – with the ‘Maniac’ explaining his change to the hard tyre on the grid made life difficult in acceleration. “I struggled all through the race in acceleration, sliding, but I tried my best throughout and I pushed really hard.”
So can they make it four in a row at Le Mans? Iannone’s record there includes one of the most spectacular battles in recent history as he and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) fought it out in 2015. and the ‘Maniac’ was the man on a mission against the reigning Champion at COTA. Tune in to the French GP to find out!