Why Sepang MotoGP test gave Suzuki reason to be optimistic for 2020

Lewis Duncan and Oriol Puigdemont
Why Sepang test gave Suzuki reason to be optimistic
Why Sepang test gave Suzuki reason to be optimistic

Double MotoGP race winner Alex Rins says Suzuki is "where I wanted to be" with its new bike after the first pre-season test of 2020 in Malaysia.

Rins ended the Sepang test third overall with a lap just 0.101 seconds off the pace, while team-mate Joan Mir was a further 0.382s adrift in 11th on combined times.

Both completed some of the strongest race runs of the entire field on the final day, with Rins's pace in particular grabbing the attention of some rivals afterwards.

Commenting on his test programme, which included trying numerous GSX-RR chassis, suspension components and electronic set-ups, Rins noted the outing was "positive" - not least as he was able to extract more performance from a fresh tyre on qualifying runs.

"We tested a lot of things," Rins said.

"We tested chassis, two or three chassis, suspension items from Ohlins, tyres from Michelin, also some electronic things on the bike, and sincerely [everything] was positive.

"The first two days I was quite happy. And [on Sunday] with the new tyres I was able to do a fast lap and this was important for us.

"Also we did a comparison in seven laps with the standard chassis and the new one, and I was able to ride all the laps in 1m59s, and a little bit more comfortable with the new one.

"Now the engineers are analysing the results, but for sure in Qatar [during MotoGP's second pre-season test] we will try to try the same things to confirm that in another track it's working well."

When asked if he was more optimistic after the test, Rins added: "Well, for sure. We are where I wanted to be be."

Qualifying proved a real issue for Rins in 2019, as he only managed on four occasions to put his GSX-RR into the top six on the grid and only once onto the front row.

Mir echoed Rins's enthusiasm about the new bike, and in particular the new chassis, which he said is "better in all areas" than the one he raced last year.

Why Sepang test gave Suzuki reason to be optimistic
Why Sepang test gave Suzuki reason to be optimistic

He did note that Suzuki's new engine is still missing top speed - with its 203.9mph best more than 6mph down on what Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller managed - but said any deficit "looks like nothing in a lot of ways".

"Top speed is not our strongest point, probably this is one [thing that needs improving]," said Mir, who had a minor crash during his long run last Sunday.

"But on this track, in these conditions, [our struggles] looks like nothing in a lot of ways, so this is really important.

"I hope that in Qatar we struggle like here, [in that we struggle] not so much."

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