Suzuki now has a “winning” MotoGP bike according to Alex Rins, who scored the marque’s first podium finish since the 2016 season in Argentina.
Rins finished third at Termas de Rio Hondo, his best finish to date in the premier class, after a race-long battle with Cal Crutchlow, Johann Zarco and polesitter Jack Miller for honours in a chaotic encounter.
The Spaniard led a lap at one stage late on after passing long-time leader Miller, but ran wide the following lap and eventually took the flag 2.5 seconds behind the victorious Crutchlow.
Speaking afterwards Rins was left convinced the GSX-RR can now fight for its first win since Maverick Vinales’ triumph for Suzuki at Silverstone in 2016.
“I learned a lot by being with the best,” said Rins. “On the last lap I saw myself with chances to win, to fight with them [Cruchlow and Zarco] for the win.
“At Turn 7 I had a scare, I closed the front and I almost fell, which cost me any chances of winning. But step-by-step this third place can become a victory.
“We are happy, knowing that we have a winning bike. I see the Suzuki well compared to the other bikes, we have improved the bike a lot since last year.”
Rins’s strong performances for Suzuki since recovering from the injuries that hampered his rookie season have made the team keen to renew his contract, which expires at the end of 2018.
Asked about his future, the 22-year-old said he expected negotiations on a new deal to begin imminently, adding he could not picture himself moving anywhere else.
“The important thing is that we are like a family, so I would like to continue here,” Rins said. “I do not see any other option besides Suzuki.”
While Rins’ future looks certain, Andrea Iannone is understood to be unlikely to be retained by Suzuki beyond 2018, with Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo having emerged as the primary target to replace the Italian.
Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont
Suzuki podiums in the MotoGP era:
|2002||2||2nd|| Kenny Roberts Jr.|
|2003||0||7th|| Kenny Roberts Jr.|
|2004||0||6th|| Kenny Roberts Jr.|
|2005||1||2nd|| Kenny Roberts Jr.|
|2006||1||2nd|| Chris Vermeulen|
|2007||8||1st|| Chris Vermeulen|
|2008||3||3rd|| Chris Vermeulen|
|2009||0||5th|| Chris Vermeulen|
|2010||0||5th|| Alvaro Bautista|
|2012-14||Did not participate|
|2015||0||6th|| Aleix Espargaro|
|2016||4||1st|| Aleix Espargaro|
|2017||0||4th|| Andrea Iannone|
|2018||1||3rd|| Andrea Iannone|