It was another well-crafted weekend for Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins as he picked up a second-place finish at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España to put himself within a point of race winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in the Championship standings.
So does this result, one race after his maiden MotoGP™ victory secured at the Circuit of the Americas, confirm the Spaniard as a title contender? It would be difficult to argue a case otherwise as he currently stands as Marquez’ nearest challenger with four rounds of the season gone. But how was Rins feeling after his second consecutive podium of the season?
“It was incredible. Finishing in first position two weeks ago and now second position it's very nice, we just need to improve the qualifying, starting on the fourth row it’s very hard to overtake the riders.”
Maybe this is one reason why some could doubt whether or not Rins could fully take it to Marquez. His qualifying results this year have been 10th, 16th, 7th and 9th, with his only front row start in the premier class coming at last season’s finale in Valencia. However, as he’s shown time and time again, the 23-year-old is able to grind out podiums from off the front two rows, just as he did in Jerez on Sunday.
“Before the start of the race we knew that my rhythm, my race pace was nice and was there, but the strategy was to overtake fast. I lost a lot of time with Dovizioso, then Marquez goes a little bit but anyway I’m happy, we had good consistency and we will try to keep the rhythm.”
But does Rins himself think he can go all the way? “I will try for sure. Before the start of this season, after the winter tests, I said our bike was strong and we had a good bike to fight for the win. We did good races, we will try to go race by race, continue on the same line and as you say second in the World Championship so that means we’re working in a good way.”
If he continues on said “good way”, there’s no reason why Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will have company in the title race this season. 11 top sixes in a row, stretching back to the 2018 San Marino GP, speaks volumes of his and Suzuki's improvements - five of those being podiums.
Le Mans and the French GP is next up, a track that should suit the GSX-RR down to the ground: “For sure Le Mans will be a good track for us. It’s a circuit with a lot of long corners so I will try to start the best way possible.”
Heading to France, the state of play looks like this:
1. Marquez – 70 points
2. Rins – 69 points
3. Dovizioso – 67 points
4. Rossi – 61 points
Will it be Rins’ turn to lead come Sunday afternoon in two weeks’ time?