Team Suzuki Press Office – May 10.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Project Leader Shinichi Sahara talks about the team performances so far this year in MotoGP™, that sees Alex Rins just one point off the series lead aboard his factory GSX-RR after four rounds and his victory at COTA, USA and second place in Jerez, Spain.
“Our goal now is to get that second win as soon as possible.”
In 2019, the last part of the season saw a strong Alex Rins and also a consistent bike. What changed this season to move everything that one step forward?
“Yes, the balance of our bike last year was really good, and I think it matched perfectly with Alex’s riding style, allowing us to get some nice results, especially in the second part of the season. This season we developed the 2019 GSX-RR further, improving its overall performance by making many small changes and keeping a good balance. We are happy with the results we have been getting.”
What would you say are the strongest points of the GSX-RR right now?
“I think the strongest points of our GSX-RR would be cornering performance and the riders’ confidence due to good feedback from the bike.”
And the weakest ones?
“This is secret…” (laughs)
This season, Alex assumed the role of ‘number 1 rider’ to head-up the development of the bike. How is he doing with this new role?
“Alex and his technical crew understand how important their evaluations and feedback are when it comes to determining our development. So far they have been working really well and we can feel it. Hopefully we will continue in the same way during the entire season.”
After a fantastic and historic win in COTA, Alex got a great second position in Jerez. Is this one of the best moments for Suzuki in the last 20 years? How does this push and motivate the factory?
“I experienced the COTA win from home in Japan, and it was a really great moment. In Jerez I was actually present at the circuit with the team to witness Alex take the second position, and it was really nice to celebrate together with everyone. I think with these results, the team and the factory engineers now know how much the efforts from each member of the team affect the race results, and then they respect each other much more and the motivation overall is higher, I believe.”
Alongside Alex is Joan, a rookie rider. Alex was in a similar position two years ago, riding with a more experienced rider. Do you think this puts more pressure on Alex to perform?
“I don’t think so, but perhaps it’s better to ask Alex. It’s true that he is now in the position of being the more experienced rider and working alongside a rookie, but I think is very positive. Honestly speaking, it is encouraging to have two young and talented riders working together and pushing each other as well as pushing the whole team to keep improving.”
What about Joan? Despite a difficult beginning to the Championship, how do you evaluate his performance and his skills?
“I have no doubt that he is talented enough to become one of top riders in the coming years. He is learning very quickly, even from his small mistakes, and at this point it is normal to have some slip-ups. Every single issue he encounters will build experience and help him to be better in the future.”
The first goal for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR in 2019 was to get a win, and that happened in the third race. What’s the next step now?
“To get the second win as early as possible. And, honestly speaking, we are working really hard to get this. We have the tools this year to repeat this original goal.”
What margin of improvement does the GSX-RR need in the coming races?
“Even small improvements make a big difference to the results nowadays in MotoGP. We still have margin to improve but we also have to consider that our rivals have margin for improvement too. Let’s see who works best and what is going on in the coming races.”
It seems Suzuki build up slowly but firmly in terms of the development of the bike, with composure and without rushing. Is that part of the philosophy of the brand?
“It is the philosophy of the Suzuki Racing Company for sure. It is better to take steps with confidence, and calmly, to achieve better results and not make big mistakes that then halt your progress.”
Could Suzuki dream about a World Championship again, or is it better to think race by race?
“For me, race by race. It is more intelligent and reasonable.
What areas of the bike are you most focused on right now from a technical point of view?
“This is another secret… although honestly, I never focus on one single point, but rather on trying to gain overall performance.”