On fire off track and on fire on it. That just about sums up Alex Rins’ (Team Suzuki Ecstar) weekend at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix after one of his GSX-RR machines caught fire in pitlane on Thursday, before he produced another great ride on Sunday to claim his second P2 of the season – on the bike that had caught fire.
“For sure, we did an ‘on fire’ Grand Prix,” joked Rins, speaking after securing his fourth podium of the year. “I did the race with the bike that was on fire but anyway, the important thing is that I feel very happy because our race pace was quite strong, I put in a lot of laps in the race with Zarco and Pedrosa. I feel happy.”
This result strengthens how far Suzuki and Rins have come in 2018. The Spaniard’s debut season in the premier class was blighted by injury, while Suzuki lost their way with the development of the GSX-RR in 2017. Now though, both rider and team are looking stronger than ever and Sepang proved once again that the Hamamatsu factory aren’t far away from being able to consistently challenge for wins.
Rins was then asked about their speed deficit to the Ducatis on the straights. If this disadvantage can be cut, the number 42 rider believes those race wins will be forthcoming: “If we get better then we will be able to fight more for the victory because the laps I was feeling very strong. Sincerely, the row in front of me was Ducatis and I lose a lot of time because on the straights they are very fast, very strong and also on the brakes.”
The important thing for Rins though? The continued work for next year. Suzuki have lost their concessions so getting the bike right for the start of the season will be crucial, but it seems they’re well on their way to being able to fight at the very top – and the 22-year-old remains confident:
“The important thing is that we are getting a lot of information for next year, we are working very hard and now we will see what happens in Valencia. It’s a special track for us, it’s like home.”
And what can we expect from Rins in Valencia? “For sure, we will try everything. As you know we have done good races in the last part of the Championship. We have a strong bike so we will see how it’s working in Valencia.”