FIRST WORDS: Rins on HRC signing ex-Suzuki chief Kawauchi

The former Suzuki rider has spoken for the first time after Alberto Puig confirmed Ken Kawauchi as HRC's new Technical Manager

LCR Honda's new boy Alex Rins has given his first reaction to the news that Ken Kawauchi will be following him from Suzuki to HRC in 2023 after agreeing to become the Japanese factory's new Technical Manager. Rins and Kawauchi formed a close working relationship over their six premier class seasons together resulting in no fewer than five MotoGP™ victories, including the final win of 2022 at the Valencia Grand Prix in November.

Kawauchi played a vital role in making the Suzuki GSX-RR one of the most competitive packages on the MotoGP™ grid over the past four seasons, as the Hamamatsu factory enjoyed seven premier class wins and the 2020 World Championship during his time there despite not having the financial muscle of their Japanese rivals. Now, after Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig confirmed the shock signing last week, the 27-year-old has given his thoughts on the major re-shuffle within Honda's technical department.

Alex Rins, Ken Kawauchi

Speaking on social media, Rins said: "I'm very happy to see this! Ken was a key part of our success in Suzuki, he developed the bike and made it competitive until its very last lap, so it is great news to have him working on our new challenge!"

Kawauchi is set to make his debut in HRC colours over the next two days at a WorldSBK Test at the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto, where HRC's test rider Stefan Bradl will be on track. The German will start life working alongside long-time factory crew chief Ramon Aurin, who was confirmed to be moving across to the Test Team as part of HRC's winter re-shuffle.

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