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After collecting your maiden premier class win, following it up with a comfortable second place at your home Grand Prix and sitting just a solitary point behind a five-time MotoGP™ World Champion; you could probably see why someone would start to get ever-so slightly carried away.
That’s not the case for Team Esctar Suzuki’s Alex Rins, however, with the young Spaniard declaring he will ‘stay grounded’ after a superlative start to the 2019 World Championship.
Rins: "It's incredible! Two weeks ago first and now second"
Why? Well, he heads to the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France knowing he’s only ever raced at Le Mans on one previous occasion, in 2018 after missing the French GP in his debut season due to injury. And, he finished that race in tenth, which surely won’t be good enough this year if he wants to keep his title charge rolling.
Rins also admits that, although his Sunday’s over the past six months have been exceptional with Jerez extending his run of finishing inside the top five to eight races, his Saturday’s have been below par. The 23-year-old has failed to qualify on the front two rows of the grid all season long, with Rins consequently saying this is an area he “definitely needs to work on” this weekend and beyond.
“The latest results have been very positive,” said the Americas GP winner. “But we’ll stay grounded and not get carried away. We need to follow our path, which is to improve race by race. We know that Le Mans can be a tricky circuit for us as it is mainly ‘stop and go’, but at the same time the growth we’ve done with the bike compared to last year, and my increased experience could be two important factors for a good race in France.”
Rins’ crew chief, Manuel Cazeaux, went into more depth as to how the factory outfit will look to best manage the ‘stop and go’ nature of Le Mans: “Le Mans is a classic European circuit and it’s tricky from a technical point of view. 80% of the track is ‘stop and go’ with braking at angles and hard acceleration from low speed. You need good traction as the tendency is for the bike to wheelie.”
Circuit setup: teams set the stage for France
Although sitting just a point behind Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in the standings prior to Le Mans, it’s hard not to wonder if it could have been the number 42 leading the way if he’d found better pace during his time attacks on a Saturday. But his qualifying struggles have been a staple part of Rins’ MotoGP™ career, with just one front row start in 35 attempts; something that he is well aware of.
“We know the points we definitely need to work on to improve further, one of them is qualifying. We must be aware that we have a competitive package and we need to keep the positive trend to place ourselves at the top.”