until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Underused no more? Rins on Honda role and post-win targets

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

At the start of the MotoGP weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, satellite LCR Honda rider Alex Rins was bemoaning his situation within the factory’s set-up, feeling somewhat disengaged from development work even as Honda bids to return the RC213V to winning ways.

He then showed Honda why it should put its faith in him by scoring an incredible underdog victory.

But while his exceptional victory, which came not so much as a surprise result on Sunday but as the result of an impressive weekend all round that also featured him on the podium in Saturday’s sprint, might have reminded the world of his talent, it’s not yet clear that it will ensure that be becomes a more integral part of Honda’s plans going forward.

Alex Rins LCR Honda MotoGP

Speaking exclusively to The Race at Jerez on Thursday ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Rins says that what comes next for him – and for Honda’s development plans – remains unknown even as Honda’s starting to show some hints that it might come to rely upon him more as the season progresses.

“I don’t know,” he admitted when asked if he’ll take on more of a test role going forward. “Every time I jump on track I try to give my best. And when I come in on the box, I try to explain in the best way possible my feelings, my situation, how can I improve the bike?

“Because I’m here to be fast and to improve the bike. And if I saw a weak point, I will say it to them.

“We need to improve and you can see that Honda is working quite hard, is trying to make a new thing, trying to find new items from other places to improve the bike. They want to do it.

“Let’s see in Monday’s test what we have to test, what we have to try. Let’s keep working.”

Alex Rins LCR Honda MotoGP

Monday’s post-race test at Jerez couldn’t come at a better time for Rins. Already battling to adapt his riding style from that of the only MotoGP bike he ever rode up until a few months ago (Suzuki’s GSX-RR) to a very different Honda, the lack of practice time offered by MotoGP’s new-for-2023 format means that the process has become even more difficult.

It has even forced him (perhaps buoyed by his new status as Honda’s first satellite winner since 2018) to turn down some of Honda’s latest testing offers since his win, like the chance to try the latest chassis used by Joan Mir – an opportunity the lack of which was actually behind his initial comments bemoaning his situation ahead of the COTA race.

“For this GP Honda gave us the opportunity to try the chassis from Joan,” he admitted. “And we say no because we don’t have enough time to test it, to test it well, to have a clear test. So hopefully we are going to try on Monday and let’s see how it is.”

Ahead of schedule

Alex Rins LCR Honda MotoGP

“The target was not to win in Austin because I’m adapting on the bike. Every time I jump on track, I’m getting used to the bike, I’m improving some things. Every GP we are doing steps forward.”

It’s hard to underestimate just how big a transition it has been for Rins this year – not just in terms of the character of the machinery that he’s riding but the whole set-up around him, as he leaves behind the factory status he’s enjoyed for his whole MotoGP career at Suzuki to take on a very different role within Lucio Cecchinello’s satellite team.

“It was a bit strange,” he acknowledged, “because I was used to entering the box and at least to have like six, seven people there around me and now I have just four. But the Honda guys, the Japanese guys are giving me good support. Before I start qualifying or before I start the race, they come, they shake my hand, they trust me and I appreciate this.”

But while his role within Honda and Suzuki might be different, one thing that is the same is their ambition, according to the now six-time MotoGP race winner.

“Similar mentality,” explained Rins. “I mean they want to work, they want to improve. Maybe they are also a bit faster than Suzuki at bringing items because Honda is a bigger factory compared to Suzuki. But more or less the mentality is the same.”

And while his first taste of success in Texas might have motivated him for the remainder of the year, he’s insistent that despite the season presenting other tracks where he has a good reputation like at COTA, he doesn’t think it changes their primary goal for the rest of 2023.

“Silverstone, Phillip Island, tracks that I really like, we need to go with the same mentality and right now our bike is not a bike to win the championship,” he says.

“The win hasn’t changed the goal. Our target right now is to build a winning bike again.”

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