The Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia had plenty of shocks and surprises before the final fireworks marked the close of the 2018 season, with Team SUZUKI ECSTAR securing a ninth podium finish.
After a weekend of chilly and wet conditions, the riders knew race day would be tricky. As the lights went out Alex Rins fired to the front from his 2nd place grid spot. The young Spaniard didn’t look back and built on his lead with each sector, setting several ‘fastest laps’. The rain continued to pour down and the attrition rate spiked, making for nerve-wracking times for the now dominant race leader, Rins. On Lap 15 the organisers threw the red flag due to safety concerns.
With less than the required three-quarters race distance completed the officials opted for a restart and a secondary 14 lap race after the rain had eased off. The remaining riders lined-up in order of the previous race standings, giving Alex Rins pole. He executed another superb start and took the ‘holeshot’ into the first corner. After a short battle at the front with Dovizioso and Rossi he dropped to third but stayed in contention. Rossi crashed with 4 laps to go, and Alex simply needed to stay on to secure 2nd place. With careful race management and precise riding throughout the day the #42 crossed the line to take his fifth podium of the season, and Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s ninth visit to the rostrum.
Alex Rins, said, “I’m very happy and we made had an incredible weekend. During the first part of the race I was leading for twelve or thirteen laps and I pulled a good gap, but when the rain came Dovizioso and Rossi caught me. For the second half of the race, after the stoppage, I had more or less the same strategy; I tried to get the best start possible, and I pushed a lot because I really wanted the podium and fifth place in the championship. It feels great to have another podium. I hope next year I’ll be at the front in almost all the races, we got a lot of experience this year and I think we’re ready for it.”
Davide Brivio, Team Manager, said, “We’ve achieved another podium, which is a great way to finish this season! We got nine in total, which is a record for Suzuki in the MotoGP era. Four of these nine podiums came from Andrea and today was a real pity for him, because he showed good speed and I feel we could’ve had both riders at the front. I’m really sorry for Andrea that his race ended in this way, and I want to say thank you to him for these past two years together. He gave an important contribution to our development thanks to the internal competition that Alex and him created, I want to wish him all the best for his carreer. Alex’s attitude in these very tricky conditions was impressive, he was able to push and control everything well. In both parts of the race he was very strong and I’m really pleased with his performance. We hope to keep hold of this happy feeling throughout the winter.”