Joan Mir: ‘We are struggling, far’, Alex Rins ‘felt something different’

Former Suzuki MotoGP team-mates Joan Mir and Alex Rins were side-by-side on the day one timesheets at the Sepang test, in 17th and 18th places, for Honda.
Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February
Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February

2020 world champion Mir, who had been 18th (+0.882s) on his Repsol Honda debut at Valencia last November, was +1.362s from VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi after 53 laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix venue.

Although Mir was only 0.4s from the top Honda of team-mate Marc Marquez, he still described his situation as ‘struggling’ and ‘far’.

“It's true that they're completely different tracks and everything but at the end we are in a similar position at the moment,” Mir said. “So we are struggling for sure.

“I think that this track is not probably the best for this bike but, you know, we are far.

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“I was able to improve during the day, especially with used tyres, I was able to feel more and more comfortable. But I'm missing a lot in a fast lap time because I don't have the confidence and the feeling to make like a time attack at the moment. I'm still not ready.

“But step by step we are getting closer. It's true that compared to the riders in front. We are far. We are working on it. I've tried a lot of things today, but it’s part of the process.”

Adding that he didn’t come to Sepang with any expectations, the Spaniard explained: “I came here with the idea to work hard and to try to build some speed.

“In Valencia, I had a different feeling from today, because in Valencia I was struggling a lot to keep the lap time. And it was strange because it was something that is always one of my strong points, to keep the lap time and to be smooth and to arrive at the end of the race with some tyre.

“in Valencia it was dropping a lot. And then when I was putting a new tyre, I was able to feel a lot the new tyre more or less. Here the lap time stayed a bit more constant than there. So I expected when I put the new tyre to have something more but it’s true that I am still not ready.”

In terms of bike changes: “We’ve been trying to improve the grip, to improve a little bit on the braking. I also tried a couple of fairings that can change completely the character of the bike.”

Alex Rins , Sepang MotoGP test, 10-12 February
Alex Rins , Sepang MotoGP test, 10-12 February

Rins: I was shocked, then I realised…

0.131s slower than Mir and directly behind him on the timesheet was Rins, winner of two of the last three races in 2022 for Suzuki.

“I'm quite happy because I feel something different compared Valencia,” said the new LCR Honda rider. “The engine was different, the power delivery was much better. More to the way that we are used to [at Suzuki], than compared to Honda.

"But for sure there is a still long way to work.

“Today we tried to find a good setup to ride with the medium tyres. I was a little bit shocked because when I saw my position so back on the timesheet, I say ‘what am I doing wrong?’ But then I realised that almost all the people were using the soft tyre.

"In afternoon we put the soft tyre, that was the race tyre [last year], and I improved one-second. So I'm quite happy with this, because we still have some margin."

"It's quite different [to the Suzuki] for sure," he added of the Honda. "I was struggling today in the braking area - the rear was shaking a lot, moving a lot - and on corner speed but honestly we try something different in the rear on the last run and the corner speed was much better.

"So let's see if we can do some more steps tomorrow, but I'm happy because I'm trying to get used to the bike now and the bike is answering well."

Mir, Rins reunited with Ken Kawauchi

After saying farewell to Suzuki technical manager Ken Kawauchi at Valencia last November and making their Honda debuts in the post-race test, Mir and Rins were reunited with the Japanese – now in HRC colours – at Sepang.

“Ken always has his method and this method was a good one in Suzuki, he showed that his methods were working there,” Mir said. “So this is what [he is] doing, to try to give his ideas and methods to the guys here in Honda, and to learn from him and make a mix.

“I think that he can make a good job [but] it is not that Ken arrives and [suddenly] the bike will work! But it's part of the process. It's not easy to find the half a second per lap nowadays in in MotoGP, but we are working.”

Rins added: “Ken's working with all the Honda guys. Last year was quite critical for [Honda]. So my impression is that they want to improve all the bikes, so all the riders go a little bit faster.

“I expect that he can bring good things to Honda. He has a lot of experience. He worked many years with Suzuki, so he have a lot of information, he knows the way to do it. So if he can put all his knowledge in Honda, it can be perfect. And he knows me very well, the way I ride and all these things.

“I trust in him. I trust on Honda. On the project, so I think they will do a good bike.”

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