Alex Rins: Yamaha “strong on the straights” but “still far from the top”

Alex Rins says Yamaha’s latest engine is “strong on the straights” but that overall “we're still quite far from the top.”

Alex Rins, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Alex Rins, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

New Monster Yamaha rider Alex Rins briefly featured as high as fourth on the timesheets during the final hours of MotoGP pre-season testing in Qatar.

The former Suzuki and LCR Honda race winner slashed 1.5s from his day one time to finish 1.151s from leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).

But Rins was still pushed all the way down to 16th, two spots behind team-mate Quartararo, due to improvements by others.

“Today, we focused more on improving our set-up, trying to put the bike higher, lower, longer, shorter, to understand where we can improve, if there is a margin or not. And, honestly, I made a step forward compared to day one," Rins said.

“We're still quite far from the top. I'm doing 1'52s, and Fabio is also 1s from the fastest rider, so we still have to work a lot to reduce this gap.

“If we want to fight for the victory, we need to work even harder. But I think our way of working is the correct one, so we are ready to start.”

Qatar top speeds
Qatar top speeds

On the plus side, the Yamaha pair were ranked third and fifth on the top speed charts, underlining the step made by the new M1 engine.

“Well, overall, I think Yamaha has improved the engine. On the straight we were quite strong, so they did a good job during the winter break,” Rins confirmed.

Team director Massimo Meregalli admitted the team hoped to be closer heading into the new campaign.

“In a way we are satisfied, because all the new materials we introduced this year gave us a boost in performance," Meregalli said.

“Most of the time the comments of our two riders matched, and it's fundamental to have them work in the same direction. But we still have work to do.

“The gap to our competitors is still important, and I had hoped to be closer. 

"I didn't expect it, because in Sepang we improved our best lap by 0.5s and here by even more. But, as I said, it's not enough, so we will keep working.

“Our pace is not bad – not top 3 yet, but not bad – but the time attack remains our main area of improvement because good starting positions are a big advantage.”

Yamaha suffered its first winless MotoGP season since 2003 last year.

Finding more rear grip and extending tyre life is now seen as the priority for the 2024 M1.

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