Struggling all weekend with the Michelin’s harder construction rear tyre, the wet weather offered the Spaniard a golden chance
It was a weekend to forget for Team Suzuki Ecstar heading into Sunday’s Pertamina Indonesian Grand Prix. That was until the heavens opened and a golden opportunity to salvage something was presented to both Joan Mir and Alex Rins. The pair were head and shoulders above the rest at the Official Test in February but a harder construction rear tyre for the Grand Prix threw the blue brand into disarray.
Along with Honda, the Hamamatsu factory were the other big losers as they were unable to make the tyre work throughout the weekend. To add to that, Rins was suffering with illness all weekend, admitting on Friday he “only slept for four hours” and that caused him to “suffer a lot”. However, he put in a seriously impressive Q2 showing the next day by taking eighth on the grid, ten places clear of teammate Joan Mir who could only manage 18th on the grid. Plus, he did it all with his second bike following a catastrophic engine failure during FP4, resulting in his GSX-RR going up in flames.
"I was so lucky" - Rins reacts to scary FP4 fireball
That Saturday showing did go a long way in masking the Spaniard's problems, though, with a top five finish on Sunday looking like a rather difficult task. But the rain arrived in Mandalika and suddenly the number 42, regarded as one of the best wet weather riders on the grid, was quickly inserted as a podium favourite.
"It was a tough one," started Rins, speaking after the race. "Luckily we were able to race, because the conditions were so, so difficult before the start of the race. But, you know, better in rain conditions for us, we have more chances to overtake.
"I tried everything to finish on the podium, making a good start and then trying to go to Miller who was second or third. I tried the maximum, but when I had some big moments on the front, I said: 'OK Alex, try to be a little bit smoother'. Then when Zarco overtook me and Fabio overtook me, I could see that they had more traction than me, so I was trying to manage very well the throttle, picking up the bike, but nothing. Then the opportunities disappeared. But OK, fifth position in a GP where we suffered a lot, we have to be happy.
Suzuki survive rainy conditions to salvage top six finishes
"For sure, the Suzuki is more balanced in all the tracks, but still we need to keep working. If the race was in the dry, for sure I don't know if I would have finished in the top five.
Eleven points for Rins' Championship tally sees him move up to sixth in the standings, tied on twenty points with Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro and teammate Mir. Now only ten points adrift of title leader Enea Bastianini, he'll be hoping to start the European leg of the Championship in a commanding position, especially as we head to two landmark circuits for the 26-year-old next: Termas, the venue of his debut MotoGP™ podium, and Austin, the venue of his debut MotoGP™ win.