SIMON SAYS: Is Austin a turning point for Rins and Honda?

by | Apr 19, 2023 | Honda, motoGP News, Suzuki

SIMON SAYS: Is Austin a turning point for Rins and Honda?

Former 500cc Grand Prix winner and’s expert analyst Simon Crafar speaks on the Spaniard’s remarkable COTA performance

LCR Honda Castrol’s Alex Rins was nothing short of sensational at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as he took his first win for Honda in only his third competitive appearance. His victory comes after finishing 11.5 and 14 seconds adrift of the eventual race winner in the opening two Grands Prix of the season, highlighting the technical deficiencies he was forced to overcome in Austin. But how was he able to do it?

Former 500cc Grand Prix winner and now’s very own Simon Crafar picked apart the Spaniard’s performance in Sunday’s episode of After The Flag. The Kiwi was keen to stress how the former Suzuki man’s “natural talent and feel” was crucial to his quick adaptation to the radically different RC213V, before looking a bit deeper into what helped Rins become the first Honda rider other than Marc Marquez to take victory in over five years.

After the Flag: Analysing Rins' charge to COTA success

"I've done a bit of digging over the past few days," started Crafar after Sunday's race. "Listening to riders and trying to find out how Alex can do this when the other Honda riders can't. He has a different riding style. The reason we all thought that Joan Mir would suit the Honda more is because he has more of a V4 style. He sits slightly further back, he’s a hard braker, slows it down a little bit more and then fires it out of the corner, which is how V4 riders normally ride.

"Alex has turned up with a more flowing style, carrying corner speed, and it turns out that that helps Honda. They have such a lack of rear grip and struggle to get the tyre to drive them off the turn, if you slow it down, stand it up and fire it off the corner then the thing just lights up. But Alex, by flowing, has masked some of that disadvantage and mastered it amazingly here.

"I know all the Honda guys have been looking at his data trying to figure out how and what he's doing. Taka for example said that he rides it more like a Moto2 bike, just carrying that corner speed. What a job. I just hope that Honda can improve that disadvantage so all the Honda riders can be competitive like him."

"We did an unbelievable pace" - Rins holds nerve for glory

The next question, of course, is where Honda goes from here. Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez is expected to return next time out at the Spanish Grand Prix, but after seeing Honda's top brass - Tetsuhiro Kuwata (HRC Director), Shinichi Kokubu (Technical Director) and Ken Kawauchi (Technical Manager) - all celebrating their new star's win, will HRC put more weight behind Rins' comments and reposition their line of development away from solely suiting Marquez.

It's something Rins himself was crying out before the weekend got underway, admitting to the press on Thursday that he felt "wasted" by Honda and that they "relied very little" on him. This victory will no doubt help his standing within the factory but it remains to be seen how much impact it will have, and whether Austin will truly be the turning point that Honda and their four premier class stars have been crying out for.

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