Alex Rins: Riding Yamaha "reminds me of the old times with the Suzuki”

"It's quite similar to the Suzuki. But [the Yamaha] allows me to have more performance on braking" - Alex Rins.

Alex Rins, Sepang MotoGP test, 3 February
Alex Rins, Sepang MotoGP test, 3 February

Alex Rins remains the last MotoGP race winner on an inline-four engine configuration, courtesy of his two Suzuki victories in the final three rounds of the 2022 season.

The Spaniard then claimed his sixth MotoGP win during an injury shortened year at LCR Honda. 

Rins now returns to the last remaining inline-four machine, the Yamaha M1, after signing for the factory Monster Yamaha squad, winless in 2023.

After making his Yamaha debut at Valencia last November, the factory’s new concessions status allowed Rins and team-mate Fabio Quartararo to take part in the Sepang Shakedown test, ahead of this week’s official outing.

“I felt so good immediately, from the first day that I jumped on the bike in the shakedown,” Rins revealed. “I'm so happy to have this feeling”

The M1 not only reminds him of the GSX-RR with which he spent his first six seasons in the premier-class but is better in some areas.

Yeah, it reminds me of the old times with the Suzuki,” he said.

“It's quite similar to the Suzuki in terms of engine, chassis. But I feel better on braking stability compared to the Suzuki. This bike, this chassis [at Yamaha], allows me to have more performance on braking.

“In the end with the Honda I missed many races and just did the first part of the championship.

“But I'm feeling very good on this bike.”

Yamaha has accepted accusations of being too conservative in the development of its MotoGP machine, especially when it comes to embracing aerodynamics.

However, there is a range of new aero present at Sepang.

“Until last year for sure we [Yamaha] were conservative, or we weren't finding the way,” Rins said.

“But we tested some different wings that helps a little bit to ride, to turn, to have less wheelie on the bike. So the way that Yamaha is working now, I felt so different compared to the Valencia test.

“OK the Valencia test was just my first day of school, but I feel already different so I'm quite happy, quite blessed that we are working in a good way.”

The engine has been widely seen as Yamaha’s Achilles’ heel in recent seasons but Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis confident the second generation of powerplants influenced by Luca Marmorini has the power output needed.

The issue now is to make the engine, which will be used to start the season, more rideable or, in the words of Quartararo, less aggressive.

Rins, perhaps due to his experience with the ruthless RC213V, described it differently.

“We are working a lot on the electronic side. It’s true that now the [new] engine is… maybe the correct word is not aggressive. It's like… faster. This new engine is faster than the one that I tried in Valencia.

“But I cannot say much because I didn't have a lot of experience with this [Yamaha] bike.”

Meanwhile, Rins now joins Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) and Jack Miller (KTM) in seeking to become the first MotoGP rider to win races on three different brands of bike.

“Well, for sure the target is the win,” said Rins, who was the only one of the trio to take a victory last season.

“We want to bring Yamaha back to the top and yeah, I got the victories with Suzuki and with Honda, two different manufacturers, now I have the chance [for  three].

“Honestly, [being first to win on three bikes] is not something that is in my head always. Because we have more things to think about. But for sure I will give my maximum. I will go race by race and see which opportunities we have.”

And what does Rins want next from the Yamaha package?

“Well, we still have new parts to test here, but I think that we need a little bit more of base, of stability, in terms of electronic side. And the aero package.”

Physically, the 28-year-old is no longer hindered by last year’s leg fractures when on the bike, although he continues to carry around “a lot of bolts”.

“My leg is much better than in Valencia. Riding the motorbike, I'm feeling almost zero pain, so I'm quite happy with this progress because we worked so hard during this winter,” he said.

“When I stand up, the first steps are a little bit hard for me. I don't know if this comes from all the material that I have inside [the leg]. But yeah, I have many bolts! We need to still wait a little bit to remove all these bolts. But for sure I believe that I will be at 100%.”

Rins was seventh fastest at the Shakedown but just 0.354s from fastest man Pedro Acosta and only 0.1s from Quartararo.

The official Sepang test, open to the full 2024 grid, starts on Tuesday.

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