The first race of the season had some ups-and-downs for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR as rookie Alex Rins scored ninth in his first race in the MotoGP™ class, while team-mate Andrea Iannone fell as he was fighting for a podium position at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar tonight. The start of the race was hectic, with rain falling just before the race, and the starting procedure was delayed by nearly 45 minutes. But after two warm-up laps, Race Management cleared the GP to begin. Although 18th on the grid, Rins kept his nerves during the hectic situation at the start of the race and made a very positive jump as soon as the red lights went out, gaining some positions at the first corner and advancing into 12th.
This allowed him to keep within distance of the more-experienced faster riders ahead of him and he continued his progress throughout. On the final corner of the last lap he made another overtake to slip into ninth position, a result that made him the first MotoGP™ class debutant rider at the chequered flag and he now leads the special classification of ‘Rookie of the Year.’ Iannone suffered bad luck: He was fastest out of the grid from his second-place position, taking the lead into the first corner. He managed to fight for a podium position for the first half of the race until he took a slide; which put him out of the race. However, the performance he showed until then was an encouraging sign for the future, and also signalling renewed bonding with his GSX-RR. Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager: “The result for Andrea is really a shame, but this weekend we made substantial improvements. Especially with him, we struggled in testing, but here at the race weekend we got better. Finally, in the race, he demonstrated effective performance and put-up a good fight until the crash. I want to thank Andrea. We have to further-improve the bike to get better results in the future. On the other hand, Alex had his first race in MotoGP and he did a very good job! He managed to finish in the top-10, which is incredible.
And even more importantly, he was able to learn many things, so I hope at the next race, he will be able to get more points.” Davide Brivio – Team Manager: “Andrea’s crash is a shame as he was having a fantastic race. He was consistently at the head of the race in a podium position, showing clear confidence with the pace. Unfortunately, he had this slide. It’s something that happens when you are fighting hard, but I think we are able to maintain the important awareness that we can be competitive and we can be there fighting. We have to work to make races like this more-and-more frequent. We are supremely happy for the absolutely great debut of Alex: He finished ninth only 14-seconds from the race winner. He kept a good pace and was very fast at the end of the race. He fought hard and I think he was able to learn a lot and proved to be a real racer. We are exceedingly proud of him and I believe this experience has been useful for him as well. He will take advantage of this in the future. I can’t wait to go to the next race to see how we can maintain our competitiveness with Andrea and further improve with Alex. At this first race we seen good signs and have reasons to be positive.” Alex Rins: “My feeling is that it’s been an incredible race. I’ve learnt a lot more than in practice.
At the beginning, I made a really good start. Then, in the race, it was a little hard for me to overtake faster racers. I think we have a very competitive bike for getting into the top-10 consistently. And for the next races, we will need to work more in the free practices to start in a better condition for the race.” Andrea Iannone: “I’m very sorry for the crash because I wasted a positive race. After the test, we continued improving, even here at the weekend. My feeling is not yet at 100% but we have room for improvement, which is a positive thing. The truth is that I made a mistake. I hit another rider which caused my crash. It’s a shame because I could be even faster and I had a good chance. I have to blame myself for the mistake. May this be a lesson to myself for the future. Although I didn’t feel totally comfortable, I have to wait for a better situation to pass a slower rider and not to be so impulsive. I made a mistake and I really hope it is my first and last time. Suzuki had worked really hard during winter for me. They are giving me a performing machine, they have trust in me, and I really want to pay them back in the best way with better results.”