This coming weekend Jerez – with its sweeping, interconnecting corners – should also be good for the reigning champion but there will soon be other tracks where the YZR-M1 will be less at home, where he won’t be able to use the bike’s corner speed and where he may find himself deeper on the grid and racing in the pack, with not enough power to overtake on the straights and with his front-tyre pressure soaring.
“It’s true that when we have to make V-shaped corners we are lost because we can’t use our corner speed,” he added. “And as soon as we get overtaken we are lost. The bike works well but as soon as we are with other riders we aren’t in good shape. But I will never give up.”
Rins was Sunday’s biggest surprise, surging through from 23rd on the grid, after a grim two days of rain-soaked practice and qualifying, to fight his way all the way through to fourth. He may even have had a go at the podium if he hadn’t destroyed his front tyre with all his overtaking moves.
The 26-year-old Spaniard is a new man this year. Last season he blew a fuse, crashing out of way too many races. Why? Rins graduated to MotoGP with Suzuki in 2017 and two years later was joined by a young rookie. Rins was therefore the senior member of the team but in 2020 he was beaten to the world title by Mir. That’s the kind of thing that can destabilise you and Rins was definitely destabilised last year.
He started 2021 with two points scores from the first seven races and ended the year 13th, ten places lower than his 2020 championship result. This year the first five race have brought him home seventh, fifth, third, second and fourth. So what’s changed?
“Not many people around me were believing me, but I was believing.”
“What’s good is my faith, my strength to be there,” he said after the race. “Not many people around me were believing me, but I was believing.
“This year I have more control over myself. I’m happy because at the end of last year I was really in the shit. We did a good job during the winter with my trainer and my mental coach. We worked a lot but I don’t want to say how.”
The 2022 GSX-RR’s impressive straight-line speed has also helped Rins. When you are losing time and positions on the straights you can’t help but panic because you know that your only hope of running with the quicker bikes is by taking bigger risks in the corners, especially with the front tyre. With more straight-line speed you can think more and feel the bike better, instead of tempting fate at every turn.
“Thanks to the evolution of the engine we are able to ride and feel the bike a bit more,” he added. “Before we were losing a lot on the straights and recovering time on the brakes and with corner speed, so maybe this is one reason I can feel the bike more.”
On yesterday’s first lap Rins passed 13 riders, going from 23rd to tenth. Those first few miles of the race were so hectic and he was so deep in the zone that he couldn’t even remember what had happened.
“I don’t know what I did at the start! I recovered a lot of positions and that was the key, to start well to recover as soon as possible.”