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It was a great day on Sunday for Team Suzuki Ecstar. Both bikes finished in the top four and it was Andrea Iannone locking out the podium for the Hamamatsu factory, just ahead of teammate Alex Rins. And the Italian was well in the fight at the front against eventual winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – far from a bystander to the duel.
“I’m really happy, I was confident with the bike and we worked in the right direction all weekend,” beamed the Italian after the flag. “It was an unbelievable race, they really pushed at some parts of the race – not all of it because it was important to manage the tyre. But we worked well.”
Those parts where the other two men were ‘pushing’ included one of the moments of the season so far – Marquez swamped by the two Italians as one went one way and the other went the other. Once back on the straight, however, Iannone found the Suzuki just lacked a little top speed to make the move stick.
Iannone: "I tried to overtake Marc and Dovi!"
“I tried to overtake Marc and Dovi but when we picked up the bike they had incredible engines. It was an incredible battle! And I battled Dovi for four years at Ducati…so he was always angry at me,” laughs the Italian. “But I stayed close to the best riders, that’s a good feeling and it confirmed that with a good bike I can fight on top.”
That it did, and it was also another good result for teammate Alex Rins although Iannone had “a few tenths on him” all weekend. Next up it’s Buriram where the tables had been turned in testing – but it remains a big wait and see for Iannone as we head for Asia: “I think for me at Buriram I struggled a lot but Alex was the opposite. So we’ll see! It’s always difficult to talk before you get on track…”
One thing we do know for sure is that Suzuki have now lost their concessions after scoring another podium. The immediate consequence? No more unlimited testing. Will that show for the Hamamatsu factory over the remainder of the season? Find out once we get to Chang International Circuit in just under two weeks.