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We’ve known for a while, but Team Suzuki Ecstar are a real force to be reckoned with in MotoGP™. 2020 has yet to give them a victory but it was a sweet Sunday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, with Joan Mir and Alex Rins handing their team a first double podium since Misano 2007.
Mir has been a revelation this season and in Barcelona, the Spaniard produced another Sunday stormer to finish P2. It’s his third-straight podium, one that sees him become the first Suzuki rider since Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000 to take three rostrums on the bounce, and one that lifts Mir to second in the Championship standings – eight points away from Catalan GP race winner Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Mir is the in-form man in MotoGP™ and yet again produces a podium after qualifying outside the front two rows, eventually missing out on the victory by less than a second.
“I’m super happy about today in the fact that we made a really good job for the whole weekend working towards the race,” began Mir, chatting in the post-race Press Conference. “We knew our strong point isn’t the fast lap and we gave our maximum in qualifying and to start from eighth position is never easy, at the beginning of the race I tried to recover many positions without getting into trouble.
“I was behind Jack (Miller) and the front group were pushing so hard, these guys were super strong in the first part of the race. Then in the middle of the race I started to feel better and recover the distance, and then I was feeling great, I saw that many riders were struggling with the rear tyre, us also but not as much. I was close to catching Fabio (Quartararo) but he did a really good job, he pushed his bike and tyres to the maximum and today he was clearly faster than us. I’m especially happy to have another Suzuki on the podium, it’s special for Suzuki and I’m really happy for my team.”
After a dislocation-fracture to his right shoulder in Spanish GP qualifying, Rins’ 2020 campaign has been a struggle. A heroic P10 a week later in Andalucia was followed by an equally heroic P4 in Brno, before a couple of top sixes came his way in Styria and San Marino. The Emilia Romagna GP was a very quiet one for Rins but on home soil, the number 42 delivered. Still not 100% fit, Rins – just like Mir – showed exactly where Suzuki’s big strength lies: tyre management and race pace.
Rins carved his way past Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) with ease and given another couple of laps, both the GSX-RRs would have been right on the back of Quartararo. Rins qualified P13 and finished P3 – if Suzuki can improve their Saturday afternoons, winning races will be a regular occurrence for both riders.
“For sure it feels great to be back here since Silverstone,” said Rins, speaking just after teammate Mir in the Press Conference. “I’m so happy for this, as everybody knows in the first race I dislocated my shoulder and after Jerez, in Brno, I was thinking ‘ok, I feel 100%’ because I didn’t feel pain on the bone. So for my body and my mind it was difficult to understand because in the end in the Free Practices, after four or five laps I couldn’t ride faster.
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Round 9: MotoGP™ Monster Energy Catalan Grand Prix
“But, I want to say thanks to my team – my working team and personal team – because they’ve given their best to give me the motivation to be there at the front, fighting. For sure 2020 isn’t easy, the season is going up and down so we need to find a way to stay on the line.”
Has Rins been extra motivated to get back on the podium because of how well Mir is going? The question was proposed to the double MotoGP™ winner: “In the end the first guy you want to beat is your teammate. For sure I’m trying to go hard to beat him, he’s doing a good season. Very consistent so let’s see, this means our bike is going good. For sure I fight for this in the last races, I remember in Austria I crashed while trying to overtake Dovi in second, but yeah, let’s be in the present.”
Living in the present is something Suzuki will be doing – and enjoying. Mir is a title contender, Rins now has that podium feeling back and will be a rostrum threat for the rest of the season, barring any further injury troubles. Suzuki’s first double podium in 13 years is thoroughly deserved, a 2020 win is still the target and further down the line, so is the 2020 MotoGP™ crown.
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