Team Suzuki Press Office – March 6.
The unique and exciting night time atmosphere of Qatar is once again about to kick off a new season, and Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir are ready to test their renewed competitiveness against a pack of 20 other fierce MotoGP contenders.
With the winter testing season finally having drawn to a close, the racing spirit of the riders sees them eager to get back on their bikes under the floodlights. The pair have differing expectations of the upcoming season; with Rins feeling ready to fight for a first victory, and Mir seizing his debut season with both hands, keen to learn and reduce the gap to the leaders race by race.
The tests in Malaysia and Qatar – the latter being just two weeks ago – brought the team positivity in terms of the competitiveness of the 2019 GSX-RR. As per the Suzuki philosophy the machine has not been totally changed, but the racing engineers have instead worked very hard on every aspect of the bike, introducing upgrades which when combined together provide an improved performance package.
Both Rins and Mir enjoyed the testing days, not only being able to place themselves often towards the top of the time sheets, but also finding solid improvements run after run. The new engine specification and chassis have proved to be effective updates, as well as the electronics package which has also been enhanced.
The riders have spent the winter undergoing intensive training, and are in prime physical condition to begin the 2019 season.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“In the winter testing we were able to go through several technical items that have been developed by the Suzuki R&D engineers, and finally we have put together the best possible bike package to start the season. The time sheets showed us that these improvements have been beneficial, but even more important was the feedback from the riders, who both felt confident and at ease on the improved GSX-RRs. Now we are excited to start the race weekend in order to fully understand and assess our winter work, and our real level, as we know very well that the only true test will be on Sunday with the first race. Alex Rins has improved a lot in the last two years, not only in his riding style but also in his approach to the races and his mental strength. He’s now able to showcase all his talent, and we believe he can continue the positive path he took at the end of last season. Joan Mir had a good winter preparation too and he is ready to start his first MotoGP season. He should not be under pressure, as the priority must be to learn and enjoy. He is certainly a talented rider, and he has already proven his skills in the winter tests, so we have to give him our best as a team to bring out his potential and see what we can achieve together. The objective is simply to improve consistently race by race.”
“Arriving for the Qatar GP is always very emotional because we can finally get into ‘race mode’ and blow away the winter cobwebs. The winter tests were positive, we found good improvements on the GSX-RR and I really enjoyed riding, but the race is something different and I definitely miss the adrenaline of nights out on the start grid. I’m very happy about how the bike has improved, the Suzuki engineers and technicians did a great job over the winter and I found positive feelings. Of course we still need to refine some things, and we still have some margins for development, in MotoGP the racing and development side is a never-ending challenge and we will work hard in all the sessions during every race weekend. Last year we ended the season in good shape, with many podiums, and the feeling that we can really go for the big prize! This is the objective that we’ve set for this season, to further improve our competitiveness and consistently put ourselves around the top of the sheets, trying to get one – or more – victories.”
“I’m really looking forward to starting the season because after the good testing that we’ve done I think we are ready to start. My biggest expectation for this 2019 Championship is to continue learning as much as possible and to constantly reduce my gap to the leaders. Learning and improving will be my absolute priority and it’s also a good way to get closer to the top guys. It will be very interesting to race with those more experienced riders. The Losail circuit is a layout where I feel confident and the GSX-RR has been improved upon consistently during the winter, in the test we did two weeks ago I had a lot of fun on the bike and found myself able to improve and be competitive. This gives me high hopes for a positive weekend in Qatar.”
TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF QATAR
Manuel Cazeaux – “The thing is that the riders are very motivated to do well, and that usually means that everything is closer than in the other races later in the season. The Losail circuit is very peculiar for the weather conditions and this is one of most crucial aspects from a technical point of view. The temperature can vary a lot from one hour to the next. Sometimes the humidity or dew can arrive in the evening – around eight or nine o’clock – and this can have an impact on grip. Tyre degradation is also a key point, it’s one of the most demanding tracks, so you have to find a good balance within the set-up of the bike to help the tyres last race distance.”