It was a positive start to 2019 for Team Suzuki Ecstar teammates Alex Rins and Joan Mir at the VisitQatar Grand Prix as both riders enjoyed a strong showing in Sunday’s race.
Rins qualified in a disappointing P10 after being hindered by a couple of crashes at Turn 2 on Saturday, while rookie Mir started alongside his fellow Suzuki rider in P11 for his maiden MotoGP™ race. However, both Spaniards were able to get a good start as the duo became prominent figures in the leading group for most of the race.
The best bits of the VisitQatar GP in super-slow motion
“I enjoyed the race a lot,” said Rins, who would eventually cross the line in fourth place, 0.457 off the race win. “What we did over the winter, during preseason, we demonstrate today that we did a very good job. This race was fantastic. It was very slow. I was trying to overtake Dovizioso before the straight, and also Marquez, but they always pass me on the straight, very fast.
“But anyway we finished in fourth position, we are able to win the race with distance from the second one. But anyway we need to work hard, I think this track for the Suzuki bike isn’t the best one, for the straight and everything. But I’m happy starting this season with fourth place, better than last year – last year I crashed here so it’s good.”
Rins was able to get himself to the front on numerous occasions in the middle of the race, overtaking Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) in sectors two and three – Suzuki’s stronghold, as he mentions. But, Dovizioso and Marquez were both able to use their superiority on the straight to get back past Rins into Turn 1.
Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo is next, the venue Rins took his first premier class podium last season. And it’s a track that suits Suzuki’s bike better than Qatar, so the five-time premier class podium finisher is expecting a good weekend.
In 15 mins: VisitQatar Grand Prix MotoGP™ highlights
“As you say on the fast corners we have a very good corner speed. But all the corner speed we have, we lost on the straight. But anyway we have good and bad points, Ducati have good and bad points, and my expectations for Argentina are very high. I got my first podium there last year, so we arrive from a good performance and full of motivation, and I will try to do my maximum.”
For Mir, an eighth-place finish on his debut just five seconds back from the race win means he leaves Qatar on a very positive note.
“I feel really good because we made a really good race,” began the 2017 Moto3™ World Champion, who dropped off the leading group in the latter stages after starting to struggle with his soft rear tyre.
“We had a really good pace, also in FP4 we show a good pace and in the race it was the same. I’m really happy but it was a shame because on the last laps I didn’t have the tyre, so soft one at the end was a bit destroyed. At the end I learn a lot about this race and this is the thing we have to do. To learn from the top riders and this means being closer to the top.”
Nonetheless, it was a fantastic start to Mir’s life as a MotoGP™ rider as he was the only rookie to finish in the points. But what did he learn from being in the mix with the top guys?
“Yeah the way to save the tyres a bit, a bit of everything, how they manage the race. I learn also in the middle of the race because they stop a little bit and then go again, they go fast again and this is something I didn’t know. So for the next race I will have this in mind to improve.”
After the Flag: a classic Qatar clash
We’ll see both Suzukis in Argentina on Friday 29th March for FP1.
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