The 2018 Japanese GP took place under sunny skies in front of 55,000 passionate motorbike fans at Twin Ring Motegi.
Ahead of the 24 lap race the riders opted for the medium-medium tyre combination. From their second and third row grid spots, Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were able to get good starts, with the latter slotting into 5th place on the first lap. Both riders set ‘fastest laps’ as they quickly joined the leading group. With ten laps to go, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders were holding 4th and 5th respectively.
However, Andrea Iannone crashed out of the race at Turn 10. Fortunately the Italian was uninjured. Meanwhile, Alex Rins took on the chance to fight for the podium, challenging Crutchlow for 3rd. With two laps to go, following a crash from Dovizioso, Alex was elevated to 3rd place and he crossed the line very close to 2nd. Sylvain Guintoli completed the race on the GSX-RR carrying some evolution solutions and collected useful data.
Rins, said, “I’m feeling really happy and so are the team, especially as Japan is the home race for them. We did a great race; I was able to overtake riders at the start, and have good race pace. After Andrea crashed I assessed the situation and thought Crutchlow might be too far in front, but I decided to try and catch him. But it was difficult to pass him because he was braking really hard. But finally we got 3rd and we’re so pleased. I’m still learning, and for sure it’s fun to fight with the other riders, even if it’s very hard. We’ll try to end this season with more podiums!”
Iannone, said, “Unfortunately I didn’t get the best start, but I recovered quickly and pushed hard. Then I began to feel vibration on the rear and I struggled on the braking points, but I was able to overcome these things and continue to push. But under braking at Turn 10 it was difficult and I lost the front. I gave everything in this race and I think the podium was possible also for me, but unfortunately these things can happen. I’m really optimistic for Phillip Island, it’s a place I really like!”
Sylvain Guintoli, said, “We were expecting a busy weekend with a lot to do in terms of development, so the main aim was just to find the most positive points of the new things. The base bike we have now is very good, as Andrea and Alex showed today with their pace. So we just need to find small margins or gains with next year’s bike and in that respect we did well. It’s been very satisfying to see the team doing so well. We have another couple of tests coming up, and they’ll be really important to see how we can further improve.”
Team Manager Davide Brivio, said, “Of course we are very happy about this race because both riders were very fast and close to the top group. Unfortunately, Andrea crashed when they were both in the battle for 4th and 5th positions. After that Alex managed to recover and get closer to Crutchlow. We got a little bit lucky with the fall of Dovizioso, but I would say that our pace was there - it was very strong. So we’re feeling good because our gap, even to the winner, was very small. We’ll continue to work very hard as we know we still have things to improve. I would like to say thank you to our President and all our engineers who are here today and have worked very hard all year, I’m glad we could achieve a podium in Motegi for them.”