Christina Bulpett |
Picture: GeeBee Images
Alex Rins celebrated his second MotoGP podium in as many weeks, and Suzuki’s 500th in Grand Prix racing, on Sunday after the Ecstar rider swept through to second at COTA.
The start found the Spaniard down a place from his seventh position grid start before he immediately regrouped. Running fifth by lap six, having quickly dispatched Pecco Bagnaia, the first of the Ducati’s heading the field, Rins soon bettered the Pramac’s of Johann Zarco then Jorge Martin on his way to podium contention. Seemingly safe in third for the majority of the second half of the race, a last lap error by long-time leader Jack Miller opened the door and the Suzuki didn’t look back.
Crossing the line two seconds behind second-time-winner Enea Bastianini, Rins promoted himself to second in the championship standings – five points adrift of the Gresini rider and six ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro – having already celebrated third in Argentina last time out and failing to finish lower than seventh in the season’s first four races.
“I’m super happy,” Rins said on Sunday night. “Sincerely, I didn’t expect the podium because in the first laps I was struggling a little bit. I loose a bit of positions. So then lap by lap, I was trying to push a little bit more the tyres, to brake a little bit late, to try to overtake the people.
“When I was third, I was saying ‘Okay, I have two big moments on the front in the first sector.’ – that sincerely was super fast. I was recovering everything there. So I had two small mistakes there and I said, ‘Okay, Alex try to finish the race’. But then the last laps the pace was not so bad so I was able to arrive to Jack and overtake him. I’m so happy for the second position. We need to keep the feet on the floor and trying to keep going and keep working like this.”
When questioned on what’s changed for the 26-year-old in recent weeks, he referenced a more relaxed attitude both on and off the bike.
“I’m trying to don’t think a lot on the bike,” he explained. “I’m riding a little bit more free and also this small advantage that we have on the straight helped us to be a little bit more relaxed during the race. I also work a lot on the mental part, the gym part a lot. We work a lot during this winter. Maybe also thanks to this I can be more relaxed or more constant.”
The relaxed attitude was a far cry from his mood on Saturday, however, after first qualifying antics of his rivals left the Suzuki man furious.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable what we saw in MotoGP,” Rins acknowledged after multiple riders were seen waiting for a tow in the opening 15-minute session. “We are MotoGP riders. I think they are waiting more than the Moto3 so the Race Direction, the FIM Stewards need to do something because it is not the way to do the Grand Prix.
“I don’t know how they can manage but I was thinking maybe for Q1/Q2, in order of the FP3 classification. Five seconds of waiting, then goes the next rider. Like this they will see which are the riders who close the throttle and then get the penalty.”