Team Suzuki Ecstar continued their strong start to the 2018 season with a hard-earned double top five finish at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, with Andrea Iannone finishing P4 and Alex Rins just 0.022 behind in P5.
Iannone started as one of the pre-race favourites to take victory on home soil after his stunning pace in Free Practice, however the Italian couldn’t keep tabs on winner Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) as he struggled with his rear tyres, despite his best efforts to snatch the last podium position off Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). “I tried my best. I hoped to finish the race on the podium but we struggled a lot with the rear tyres. The temperature was really hot and we lost a lot at the acceleration point onto the straight.”
Iannone then explained how he was losing time to the Ducatis coming onto Mugello’s 1.1km home straight, which then meant he had to push harder round the rest of the lap. Overall though, the number 29 was happy with P4, “we lost three tenths compared to the Ducati on the straight and it’s really difficult. In any case, I’m happy about the race, I pushed a lot from the beginning. Mid-race, I reduced my pace a little bit to recover the temperature on the tyres and not stress because I know the last part of the race is really really important for us. I tried my best and we finished 4th, it’s good for us.”
On the other side of the garage, Rins suffered a heavy fall on Saturday which resulted in the Spaniard taking a heavy knock to his right shoulder. Despite the set-back, Rins was able to stay in the hunt for a podium throughout the race, something he wasn’t expecting pre-race. “I’m very happy because I didn’t expect this result. Yesterday, I had a very bad crash and I hit my right shoulder and my strength was very bad, during the race I was struggling a lot. Sincerely, at the start I was trying to keep focused and when I was with the second group I was thinking about the race and not the shoulder. Finally, we finished in 5th so I’m very happy.”
Battling with the likes of Iannone and Rossi was also a huge learning curve for the 22-year-old, who gained plenty of experience while managing his front tyre. “I took a lot of experience. I managed the race well, it was really hard because the track temperature was so hot and the grip level on the front tyre was not the best but I think that we gave our best, I’m working really well with the team and I want to continue fighting.”
Rins will visit hospital on Monday to see if any further treatment is required on his shoulder, before resting it ahead of his home round at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. “Tomorrow I will go to the hospital to look at the shoulder and then try to recover as best I can for Montmeló.”