This time last year, Alex Rins was heading for the Christmas holidays with a painful back injury and head full of doubts, having been hurt in his very first MotoGP test for Suzuki.

The back injuries meant Rins was also denied the chance to take part in the private Jerez test at the end of November, when crucial decisions were taken for the direction of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-RR, most notably the engine specification.

One year later and it's a 'massive difference' for the Spaniard, who not only has a season of MotoGP experience under his belt, but heads for the holidays healthy and confident in the technical choices for 2018 after a strong final test at Jerez.

"Very happy," he said, just before leaving the paddock. "We tried many, many things. I tried especially the new engine, it's not the definitive [2018 engine] but one based on the 2018 we can say.

"I was riding very fast and consistent, this is important. Always with used tyres. So I'm really happy because these two days were so productive. We tried chassis, we tried engine and we have a lot of information for Japan."

Pressed on the combination of parts he preferred, Rins said he had not yet used the new engine with his preferred chassis.

"I liked the chassis from yesterday a lot. Then today I used the chassis from the Valencia test with the new engine. I happy because with the new engine I felt more power, but I'm not allowed to say any more about it, sorry!

"Maybe for Sepang it will be a combination [of the best chassis and engine]."

Click below to watch Rins testing his GSX-RR at Jerez.

Despite prioritising used tyres, Rins finished the Jerez test with a best lap time of 1m 38.307s, just 0.277s slower than Iannone.

"I feel very good and I'm enjoying riding the bike. It's a massive difference compared to one year ago. Now I have more experience and I have 100 percent confidence with the bike and the team. This is important to be fast."

And has his life changed much since becoming a MotoGP rider a year ago?

"A little bit. Moto3 and Moto2 are good categories, very competitive, with media and everything. But MotoGP, especially racing for a factory team, it's a lot busier and there's more pressure from the box. But it's not a problem."

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