“I want to continue like this because I believe a lot in myself and this team,” said Alex Rins of the Team Suzuki Ecstar outfit for which he won two MotoGP races in 2019. “The work the team is doing is awesome. They trusted me during the evolution of the bike at the end of 2017, and ever since we have been working very hard together. In Japan, the factory is doing a great job with always bringing little new updates. We did great in 2019, but now we need to look where 2020 is going.”
The two triumphant Grand Prix wins Rins speaks of came at COTA in April and the British Grand Prix in August. Those results brought hope and optimism to the manufacturer, which has won premier-class championships with Barry Sheene (1976 and 1977,) Marco Lucchinelli (1981), Franco Uncini (1982), Kevin Schwantz (1983) and Kenny Roberts Jr (2000).
And now it is a pandemic-sabotaged 2020 season that the globetrotting MotoGP contingent must deal with before being called back out to the racetracks of the world. Enter Suzuki mastermind Davide Brivio. A MotoGP paddock stalwart who formerly worked closely with Valentino Rossi in helping the racer manage his global business affairs, Brivio has played a significant role in Suzuki’s MotoGP renaissance.
“Winning a championship for Suzuki is our target,” declared Brivio from his lockdown base. “Being a champion is something very difficult. We are aware of that. There are very strong competitors, strong riders, strong teams, but we are here to try and win. In the coming years, our approach is to fight for the world title. And no doubt Alex Rins can do this. We are here for this. Suzuki and me, we both believe we can achieve it and we are working hard and doing our best to get the title.”
Rins and the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR inline-four have been a match made in heaven; the bike allowing for excellent handling and high speed changes of direction, ideal for Rins’ aggressive yet smooth riding style. Taking all of this into account, Rins, like the rest of us, has had plenty of time to think about riding, racing and life in general while riding out the coronavirus clampdown, and we were able to find out about it via a Zoom conference call on Friday. Dressed up in Suzuki blue and in good spirits – albeit a bit bored – Rins spoke to us about his current lot in life in Andorra, where the Spaniard has been holding station.
“Well, for me, I’ve had small holidays and have stayed close to home during this lockdown,” said Rins just prior to the kickoff to his weekend. “I’ve been training at home and doing a little bit of indoor cycling, and I’ve been doing some pushups and stuff, but it is not easy to train at home because I don’t have the right materials and equipment here to work. Now, though, it is clear that we can see light at the end of the tunnel, because for example, today we start to ride again with the motorbikes here in Andorra, so I’m quite happy for this.”
I mentioned to Alex that I had spoken with Fabio Quartararo a few days back, and that the French MotoGP sensation was also in Andorra where he was trying to get tuned up for the day he gets called back to the grid.
“Yes, yes, I have seen a lot of riders riding here in Andorra,” says Rins. “Fabio, Maverick Vinales and the Espargaro brothers. There are a lot of people around. For example, today I went riding with Tito Rabat. That was nice to see once again your rivals at the track, and also away from the track! That was good.”
And of being bored and trying to burn time off the clock before someone, somewhere calls everyone back to Grand Prix racing sometime this summer?
“As you know, when you are a rider, your entire life is racing,” offered Rins. “I mean, the bike, the PlayStation, going to the workshop that I have… With my friends and coworkers, it’s like, ‘Hey, I go into the shop today and we’ll race, okay? I’ll be faster than you and get out of the way!’ We’re always racing. Not a bad thing. Yes, I’ve been racing on the Esports and PlayStation with MotoGP and I prefer the real one! I like to do that. I’ve also done some races in cars with Gran Turismo and we play these games. These are the kinds of things we’ve enjoyed at home during this period.”
2019 great year with Suzuki. Two wins. Coming off an awesome season. History! 2020!
“Yes, as you said, we come off of 2019 which was a very good season,” he said. “This year I hope to go faster than last year, and it looks like we will race again at the end of July. That is very good news for us, because after a season that was quite good in 2019, I’m so excited to start racing again to feel the adrenaline and to race and to try and win.”
Having signed with Suzuki to race as a rookie for the team in 2017, Rins has been the foundation of Suzuki’s rapid ascension in modern day MotoGP; the Suzuki Ecstar outfit working closely together to further bolster high performance and consistent podium finishes.
“For sure, we win the races together and we are all very close, and as you know, I just signed two more years with Suzuki,” explained Rins. “All of us together as a team and with the bike, we are all together and we have the same mentality and that is to win. For sure I believe in them, and they believe in me.
“I’m also now very excited to start back racing to show to the world that I’m more ready than ever to fight again,” he continued. “It’s not easy to win a race in MotoGP, and I got two victories last year and that was a pleasure for me. When you arrive and you do something like that, you want to keep it, and for sure I want to continue getting podiums and winning races. And something we want to focus on this year is to be more consistent and to finish all the races on the podium and to try and see where we are at come Valencia. We improved the bike a little bit and made it more consistent, and it is more powerful down the straights for 2020. As you said, the 2019 season was so good and we are ready. Suzuki did a very good job and they believe in me and they want to start racing right now – and so do I.”