The highly anticipated Qatar GP took place under Losail’s lights with good conditions. After executing excellent starts, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s two riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir were able to secure respectively 4th and 8th in a hard-fought race which saw the closest Top 15 in MotoGP history, and the Top 5 covered by just over half a second.
Rins slotted into 9th on the first lap but quickly made progress, working his way impressively through the field. By the fourth lap the young Spaniard was leading the race, and he began a battle for the podium positions with several other riders which lasted until the final lap. With a leading group of nine for the majority of the race, it was a tough job to be at the front, but Alex rose to the challenge. As the race went on, tyre management became crucial but Rins was able to finish 4th, a tenth of a second off the podium.
Making his MotoGP debut, Mir pulled off an excellent start and was 7th on the opening lap. The rookie continued a push through the field which saw him rise as high as 4th place. Defending well against some much more experience riders, Mir impressed throughout the 22 lap race. As the chequered flag came out he had dropped to 8th place, but he has already proven how quickly he is learning the premier class.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager: “It was a good race, and I’m happy to see Alex continuing to do so well and improving all the time. We still have room to improve the bike, but we’ve finished this first race with strong results. Joan made his MotoGP debut in the top group and this was very good, so we hope to continue with both riders at the front in the next races.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager: “It has been a great race and we were very close to the front – fighting for the win for the whole race. Alex did a great job and achieved a lot, despite the fact that our bike suffers a bit on the straight. We feel very positive because this isn’t our best track but we still had a very good result. Joan put together an incredible debut, we hoped he would be in with a group so he could learn, and it turned out he was in the best possible group to get important lessons! He made some great moves and fought with the fastest guys.”
Alex Rins: “It was an incredible start to the season, it shows all the hard work we’ve done in the winter. The race pace was quite slow and I was constantly trying to get to the front to pull a gap, but Dovi and Marquez overtook me down the straight and it was difficult. We know this isn’t our best track but I felt good and we’re all pleased with this result.”
Joan Mir: “I’m so happy about the race. We showed good pace in FP4 and I was able to bring this speed to the race. I learned a lot from the top guys and this was one of the most important and interesting things about this race for me. It was a shame that my tyre went off a bit at the end so I was unable to push more, but anyway, I hope to continue this way – improving race by race, and trying to stay with the front guys.”