BRILLIANT RINS WINS HIS FIRST MOTOGP RACE IN TEXAS
Team Suzuki Press Office – April 14.
Alex Rins: 1st
Joan Mir: 17th (+ 48.063)
• Alex Rins keeps cool to execute perfect debut victory.
• Joan Mir left to recover following a jump start penalty.
• Team SUZUKI ECSTAR celebrate first win since 2016.
The Circuit of the Americas witnessed a drama-filled race 20 lap race, but Alex Rins immediately slotted into a Top 5 position and began to work his way up the field. The Spaniard felt confident with his GSX-RR, and with his usual smooth riding style he was able to remain cool while others around him fell foul of mistakes. Alex had already placed himself in a podium position, but was promoted to 2nd with 11 laps to go as Marquez crashed out.
Using excellent race craft, Rins planned a victory charge for the last few laps, before executing a great pass on Rossi to lead. Alex remained calm under pressure from the 9-time champion to earn his first ever MotoGP win.
Joan Mir, meanwhile, was feeling ready for the race after a positive morning warm-up session, but the rookie unfortunately jumped the start and was forced to complete a ride-through penalty whilst running in 13th place. Joan used the remainder of the race to learn and become further acquainted with his GSX-RR, finishing the GP in 17th place.
Today’s victory marks Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s first win since Silverstone 2016, and Alex Rins’ first win since Le Mans 2016, as well as being his debut MotoGP top step.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“It was a great race. Our bike and Alex have both grown a lot in recent months, and we were finally able to show the results of these improvements. Joan made a small mistake today but he paid a big price. We’re looking forward to the next races with him because he’s learning fast. I want to thank Alex, the whole team, and everyone who is involved with this project on site and in Japan – today is a very happy day for Suzuki.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Today we are so happy – so pleased for the factory back in Japan and for all the team staff, because everybody has worked so hard. It’s wonderful for Alex, this is further proof of the way he’s matured and improved. When he began with us he suffered a lot with injuries, and since then he has worked so hard and this achievement is something he really deserves. Now I can say that our target this season was victory, and we’ve done it at the third race. Thanks to all the Suzuki staff and Alex. Joan had amazing pace today but unfortunately he jump-started and the penalty cost him a lot, we already talked a lot about this; but finally he has made another important step this weekend. I’m happy about his improvements.”
“It’s incredible! I’m very happy to win the race here! In warm-up this morning we tried a different set-up and it didn’t work in the way we expected, so we reverted to the usual settings for the race and we won, it’s super! I’m lost for words! I managed the pressure well, even though I suffered a bit in the last laps. When I crossed the line all the feelings hit me at once. I just want to say a big thank you to all my team, everyone in Japan, and all the people around me!”
“I’m quite disappointed about the jump start, the footage shows that I moved a fraction before the lights, but I didn’t gain anything from it. Nevertheless the penalty is a ride-through. Without this I could have had a strong result so it’s a real shame, but anyway, I’m happy with my pace and my feeling with the bike – both were good this weekend. I want to congratulate Alex because he did an amazing job! All the team will continue working to be even more competitive.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is now a MotoGP™ race winner after an incredible performance under pressure at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, able to escape the clutches of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to secure victory by just under half a second. After a crash out the lead for six-in-a-row COTA winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), the race was on for a new Sheriff to take the reins in Texas and it all came down to a duel between Rins and Rossi but the young gun held firm. Another did the same for third, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) taking his first podium in dry conditions as he came home as top Independent Team rider as well as top Ducati.
Marquez took the holeshot from pole and immediately set about trying to pull away, but Rossi was in hot pursuit with a small gap back to Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). Miller and Rins made for pretty close company too, but the initial big mover was a stunning start for Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) as he gained seven places from a P13 grid position. Then there was the first bout of drama as Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) were both given ride through penalties for jump starts – and Crutchlow then crashed out. That left Rossi with a bit of a gap in second, but Miller and Rins were on the chase.
Suddenly, however, that fight for second became the fight for the win as there was a number 93 Repsol Honda on the floor. The reigning Champion and only man to have previously won in Texas slid out at Turn 12, tried to get back in the race but was ultimately unable to…leaving Rossi in the lead and Rins on the chase.
The ‘Doctor’ held firm as the laps ticked on, but it seemed the Suzuki behind had something in his pocket. Closing in and closing in, with four laps to go Rins finally chose his moment and made his move – getting past well but Rossi quick to try and fight back to no avail. Then, again, the number 46 made a lunge for it on the next lap but this time headed well wide, that seeing Rins able to pull out a bit more breathing space as he settled back into the lead.
As it transpired, another move wouldn’t come but the ‘Doctor’ threw everything at it. Cutting the gap on the final lap there were bitten fingernails as the Jaws music echoed around the track and Rossi closed in, but Rins remained steadfast. With just enough margin in the final sector it all came down to holding his nerve and that he did, crossing the line just under half a second clear – becoming the first man to win in Moto3™, Moto2™ and MotoGP™ at the Circuit of the Americas where, incidentally, he took his first ever Grand Prix win in 2013.
Rossi’s hard-pushed second place makes it twice in a row on the podium for him, though, and Miller’s visit to parc ferme is his first since his stunning debut premier class win at Assen in 2016. That’s also a key number for another two stats: it’s Suzuki’s first win since Silverstone 2016 and Rins made it the first time we’ve had a first time winner since that same season.
Behind that fight for the podium Dovizioso made good on his stellar start to limit some damage and take fourth, making the Qatar winner the new Championship leader. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who took on the number 04 initially, crossed the line in fifth for his best ever MotoGP™ result, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati). Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was top rookie once again as he took his best yet of a P7 – improving one position on Argentina – and he’s now well ahead in the fight for Rookie of the Year. Eighth place went to Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) from his best ever KTM qualifying in P5, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) taking his best result in MotoGP™ so far in P9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) rounded out the top ten as the sole finisher for Honda after a mechanical problem for Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team).
Viñales fought back to P11 after his ride through penalty, ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing).
That’s a wrap from COTA for 2019. Some history made and a shake up in the Championship sees us heading to Jerez with Dovi in the lead – and Rossi hot on his heels. Rins is now third and Marquez drops to fourth after his crash, but the four are all within nine points as Europe beckons so tune in for Jerez in three weeks for an all-time classic carnival in Spain.
Oliveira brings home points from tough Texas – Syahrin gathers more experience
Miguel Oliveira did a brave third MotoGP race of his career today to end up inside the points, while Hafizh Syahrin managed to finish demanding 20 laps, although the Circuit of the Americas didn’t occur as an easy playground for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo from the very beginning.
Following a rather difficult start, finding himself only in P20 after the first lap, Oliveira found a solid rhythm in order to make up several positions. The Portuguese Youngster grit his teeth to fight through to 14th at the chequered flag. Meanwhile, Malaysian star Syahrin struggled to get into grips with one of the most challenging tracks in the MotoGP calendar, but did well to complete the Grand Prix in P18.
“For sure it was a difficult race, a very disappointing start of the race. I was not expecting to start this bad, but then we picked up the pace, riding good, I mean inside of what we predicted. We need to be happy about this result, because at the end, we finished where we wanted, which is inside the points. It is definitely a very difficult track to ride and to be in the points here, is very good. Now we go to Jerez, a track, we like a lot. The bike looks like it’s performing well there, so we can’t wait. We take many positives from this race, we learned and understood the bike more. My position on the bike needs to be a bit different, so we are working in this direction to make me feel more comfortable, so it’s definitely the time to look at the good things, we achieved this weekend.”
“I’m honestly a bit disappointed, because we tried a different choice of tyre, but it seems it was not the right selection. Right from the beginning of the race, I felt a huge drop, I couldn’t stop the bike well enough, so I was just fighting with it. It was difficult to keep the pace and this took all my energy. I don’t know why this happened, but I hope we can come back in Jerez, the first race on European ground. I wish we find something there in order to have a good pace and close the gap to the front.”
“Overall it has been a tough weekend and we were not on the same level like in Argentina. We knew coming here wouldn’t be easy, but I have to say that Miguel – as usual – put his head down, kept calm and worked really well. He qualified ok and although his start was very poor, he recovered quite a few positions and he has been finding himself right behind Johann (Zarco) and they did the race at the same pace, following each other and it was quite interesting for Miguel to see how Johann was working, so I think he learned a few things, plus got another two points. Clearly, it was an interesting weekend, but the gap at the end, was quite big. Hafizh was a big disappointment, as we know his potential. Sometimes he goes two seconds quicker than the previous lap or the previous practice, so he is very up and down and we don’t understand how you can have such a big difference of lap time. Still we were quite confident he could have a strong race but although the start was a lot better than Miguel’s he just faded lap after lap. I hate to be last, but he was last and this is not a good position. The gap was huge, at the end of the race, we could see that he had nobody in front of him and the motivation was going down. There is still some work to do for him to understand better how to ride the bike and to be more consistent because more than the speed he needs consistency. It’s still early days in the season, only round three, but we really need to see Hafizh showing some progress and improvement, plus reducing the gap to his teammate. Let’s take the positives; we have done three races, we are clearly closing the gap to the guys in front, we are in a great group, which is very competitive and very exciting. Now we go back to Europe to a track we know. We will certainly get some upgrades from KTM and have a test after the Grand Prix on Monday, which all is very promising. We need to work, we need improvements and this is what’s going to happen in Jerez. Thanks to everyone in the team, in KTM MotoGP department to support us the way they do and I would like to congratulate Pol (Espargaro) for his incredible Qualifying and his really, really strong race, because you can’t complain about the package when you see his results. This is a good sign and this is the target we have to have in mind.”
CRASH COSTS CRUTCHLOW PODIUM CHANCE IN TEXAS
PRESS RELEASE: 14 April 2019 | Austin Grand Prix
Cal Crutchlow ensured another frustrating Sunday afternoon as he suffered an early fall at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider looked poised for an assault on the podium places in Austin having started in third position on the grid after demonstrating impressive during qualifying.
The Briton had made a strong start to the race and was ahead in a front three along with pole-sitter Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi in the early stages. However, Crutchlow lost the front end of his RC213V on lap six when stalking Rossi and slid out to bring his race to a premature and disappointing end.
Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“Obviously I’m very disappointed with today’s result here at the Circuit of the Americas. It seemed that I got a good start and managed to be on the pace with the front guys, Marc had a little bit of a lead but I felt comfortable in the position I was in. Unfortunately I started to feel some issues with the turning of the bike, the front tyre was not giving me a great feeling and when I crashed I think I made a mistake because the engine was snapping on the braking. I locked the front in turn 11 going on to the back straight and it was the end of my race. It’s my first mistake of the year and I’m disappointed to make it here because we could have capitalised on some great points (in the championship), but we have to look forward to Jerez now which is another great circuit and we hope to do a better job there. I want to thank my team who produced a great bike all weekend and we’ll look to try and improve it in Jerez in two weeks’ time.”
Repsol Honda Team leave difficult Austin weekend ready for European return
Both Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo leave the Americas GP pointless after a double DNF while fighting at the front.
A chilly, but dry, morning Warm Up session soon gave way to 39ºC track temperature as the MotoGP World Championship lined up for the 20-lap race. Leaving his braking late, pole-setter Marc Marquez led into and through Turn 1, steadily building his lead each lap. An error into Turn 12 on Lap 9 caused Marquez to lose the front of his RC213V, unable to restart his machine he was forced to retire. Marquez was unharmed in the fall.
Starting 11th, Jorge Lorenzo did his best to maintain his position in the opening laps. Lap 5 saw Lorenzo find his rhythm and commence his march forward, quickly making up several positions. Looking comfortable on his RC213V in tenth, Lorenzo was closing in on Bagnaia in ninth when he encountered a problem and was forced to retire. The issue was unrelated to the one suffered by Lorenzo on Saturday and HRC are investigating the issue.
The Gran Premio Red Bull de España at the iconic Jerez circuit, May 3 – 5, offers the Repsol Honda Team a chance to return to fighting at the front. Marquez and Lorenzo have taken 14 premier class podiums, including five wins, between them on their previous visits to the Spanish track.
A perfectly sunny race day at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) delivered nothing short of a sensational Grand Prix of The Americas. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi put his heart and soul into today‘s race and only just missed out on the victory, taking 2nd position. Maverick Viñales had an equally competitive race pace, but a ride through penalty after a jump start cost him valuable time and places. Still the Spaniard kept going, cutting through the rider pack all the way back up to 11th place.
Rossi rushed off the line, dashing towards the tight left first corner, just like he planned. He knew that if he wanted to challenge for the win today, he would have to push 100% right from the very start. He was doing a superb job to block Cal Crutchlow, whilst chasing Marc Márquez.
With 15 laps to go, The Doctor got a bit of breathing space as Crutchlow crashed out. At the time Márquez was almost 3s ahead of him, but the Italian never gave up. He searched for the perfect balance between keeping the pressure on and managing his tyres, and it paid off. Márquez crashed out with 12 laps to go, giving Yamaha the lead in the race.
The events also spurred on the chasing Álex Rins, but Rossi managed the gap until, with five laps to go, the battle for the victory was on. Rins came through a lap later. The veteran tried to retaliate, using a block pass, but it was unsuccessful and resulted in 0.5s gap. The number 46 rider was making a great attempt to undo the damage, inching closer, but he ran wide with two laps to go, meaning he had to do the work all over again. He wasn‘t giving up, though. In the last lap Rossi managed to make up a lot of time and was looking threatening behind Rins in the final sector, but ultimately he came just 0.462s short as they crossed the finish line.
Viñales held firm at the start of Round 3, defending his P6 going into turn 1. He battled with Andrea Dovizioso and crossed the line for the first time in seventh place. With 17 laps to go, Viñales had to let Franco Morbidelli past, and more bad news was on the horizon as he was given a ride through penalty for a jump start.
A moment of confusion lost him 4s and five places, as he unnecessarily took the long-lap penalty lane. He completed the ride through penalty in pit lane on the next lap, which moved him even further back, to 19th place.
Though down the order, the Spaniard wasn‘t out for the count. He soon flashed a red sector and started to climb up the ranking again. Whilst various riders retired from the race, he passed Hafizh Syahrin and found himself in P16, nearly back into the points and lapping more than 1s quicker than a group of nine riders ahead of him. He soon gained two more places, closed an almost 4s gap, took another two positions, closed a 5s gap, and overtook yet another rider to salvage an 11th place finish, 34.077s from first.
Today’s results see Rossi climb to 2nd position in the championship standings with a 3-point gap to first. Viñales is now in 12th place, with a 40-point margin to the top. Yamaha is joint second in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is also second in the team classifications.
The team will be back in action in three weeks’ time, when the MotoGP paddock embarks upon the European leg of the championship, starting with the Spanish GP, held at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto.
“Today was a very mixed experience for the team, results-wise. Valentino really did all he could to get the victory. It’s a shame – also for the team, but especially for him – that he just missed out. It was so close! Still, taking a second consecutive second place is very good, so we feel encouraged to keep up the good work. As so often in MotoGP, a small mistake can have a snowball effect and create a lot more trouble. After his jump start, Maverick lost a lot of time because of the ride through and the unnecessary long-lap lane. We can tell from his pace at the end of the race that he could have been a strong contender today. So, in the end there are some learning points after this experience, but I think one major positive that we can take away from this weekend is the overall bike performance. We’ve made another step and are looking forward to confirm the improvements at the next round in Jerez.”
“I’m very sorry for missing out on the victory, because when I saw Márquez crash I said to myself ‘Maybe I can do it’, but after that Rins arrived. Sincerely, I pushed to the maximum, the race was very fast, I did one good lap after another, but in the end he was better than I was. I was riding very well, and I wasn’t able to overtake him. It’s a shame because I haven’t won for a long time, but we are strong, and we will try again next time. On a positive note, I tried everything today, I rode a very good race and stayed in front for a long time. Riding on the limit, unfortunately I made some mistakes. Maybe if had done everything perfectly I could have tried to attack on the last lap again. So, mixed feelings: on the one side, I’m sorry about the victory, and on the other side it’s a great result after a great weekend. I was strong and I rode a very good last lap, but I didn’t want to do anything too crazy because 20 points are very important for the championship, which is still very open. It looks like we are strong this year and that the bike has improved, and these are the most important things, because maybe we can fight at the front many times this season.”
“I misunderstood the penalty a little, but anyway, besides the mistake, it was a good race weekend for us here. We showed a really good race pace and after the ride through I could easily ride in the 2’04s. This is just the way it is. We will have to try again in Jerez and be stronger there. I made a mistake at the start. I was starting really well all weekend, this afternoon I tried to do the same, but on the grid the bike got a bit hotter and the clutch engaged and the bike started running. It’s a shame, because I felt really good during the race. I already knew there was a chance that I would get a penalty, and that’s just the way it is. At first, I thought I had to do a long lap, but then I saw ‘ride through’ and thought ‘OK, I have to do this’. The good thing was that the bike was working really well. We had a good set-up for the race. We need to keep working and find the best system for the start. The start was actually good, as in that I didn’t lose any positions, and I tried to overtake some riders. Let’s see what happens at the next races.”
After the storms and high winds of qualification on Saturday the Circuit of The Americas offered crystal clear blue skies and decent 20-degree temperatures for the 20 lap Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas affair and for what was the third round of nineteen on the 2019 calendar.
Pol Espargaro continued his positive trajectory this season so far by setting off from the second row of the grid and battling for a position in the top ten. The Spaniard was able to keep consistent across a bumpy and physically demanding surface and improved his race time from 2018 by sixteen seconds to capture 8th place. #44 was the first of the Red Bull KTM riders home and has now registered results of 12th, 10th and 8th in Qatar, Argentina and the USA.
Teammate Johann Zarco used the long and challenging COTA layout to gather more feeling and information on the KTM RC16 and ahead of possible upgrades to his technical package for the fourth Grand Prix of 2019 in three weeks time. The Frenchman was 13th for his highest ranking yet. Chasing the rear slick of the #5 machine was Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira who recovered from a bad start to again post points in what was just his third outing. Hafizh Syahrin struggled to 18th after a misjudgement with tyre selection.
Espargaro is 9th in the championship table and his efforts have helped KTM to rise to 5th in the Constructors standings.
Pol Espargaro: “My crew and all the team worked really hard this weekend in a very tough place for us. We took an unexpected result here in Texas and we were sixteen seconds faster than we were last year. This is a realistic position: around the top ten. We’ll go now to Jerez and a place we have been fast in the past maybe with some small improvements on the bike. I’m excited about what the guys are trying in the factory. I’m super-proud when I look at the results from last year or two years ago and what we are able to do now and what we are achieving. It also feels like the people in the paddock are also seeing our work. I have everything I need to keep pushing.”
Johann Zarco: “I managed my energy much better. It doesn’t mean that I could go faster. I could manage the gap with the guys behind me and tried to push also at the end to save the 13th position. Some guys in front had problems and crashes but this is part of racing so I just tried to finish and to take what I could. I will try to be as natural as possible in Jerez and take as much information as I can. If small things give me that good way to improve feeling then I will be able to use my quality and I’ll be the first one happy.”
Miguel Oliveira: “For sure it was a difficult race. I was not expecting to start this bad but then we picked up the pace. We need to be happy about this result because in the end we finished where we wanted, which is inside the points. It is definitely a very difficult track to ride and to be in the points here is very good. Now we go to Jerez. The bike looks like it’s performing well there so we can’t wait. We’ll take many positives from this race because we learned and understood the bike more. My position needs to be a bit different, so we are working in this direction to make me feel more comfortable.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “I’m honestly a bit disappointed because we tried a different choice of tyre and it seems it was not the right selection. Right from the beginning of the race I felt a huge drop; I couldn’t stop the bike well enough so I was just fighting with it. It was difficult to keep the pace and this took all my energy. I hope we can come back in Jerez, the first race on European ground.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “From Pol’s side the weekend was great for us. Austin is a demanding track for all bikes and riders so he performed very well in qualifying and took his rhythm in the race and finished a clear 8th. We can only be happy about that. With Johann we were struggling more and he still doesn’t feel confident on the bike so we will work hard on that. We had three bikes in the points with Miguel scoring also. For us the top ten is always an achievement, so now we’ll look forward to getting to Europe and making another step in positions. I think it is great for the company to see that all the pushing and hard work in the winter can translate to results and this is very good. We’ll continue and by the end of the year we’ll see where we are with our package and riders.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Moto3 wowed the fans in Austin with a five-rider charge to the final corner of the last lap. Sterilgarda Max Racing Team’s Aron Canet had pulled out valuable tenths of a second into the decisive turn to clinch his first victory (and second rostrum finish) of the season. The Spaniard – celebrating his first win since 2017 and on the KTM RC250GP – headed an all-KTM top three with Jaume Masia fractions of a second ahead of Andrea Migno. Canet and Masia now share the championship lead in the standings. Red Bull KTM’s Jorge Martin took his second point-score of the season with 15th position in Moto2 while Brad Binder was forced out of the race early-on due to a technical issue.
Aron Canet: “I was thinking about my strategy and stayed relaxed for a long time when I reached second position. With two laps to go I pushed really hard, and to take this victory for the first time in two years feels fantastic.”
The Gran Premio Red Bull de España at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain will bring the MotoGP series to Europe for the first time in three weeks on the first weekend of May.
Next race: May 5, Circuito de Jerez, Gran Premio Red Bull de España (ESP)