Suzuki is hoping the first daylight MotoGP race of the season, in Argentina this weekend, can shed more light on 'where they stand' after promising speed from Alex Rins in Qatar.

The Spaniard qualified a career-best sixth at Losail and, after losing places at the start, had just returned to that position when he fell on lap 13. That left team-mate Andrea Iannone as the only GSX-RR rider to reach the finish, in ninth.

"In Qatar we had positive outcomes from both riders and the GSX-RR is showing to be more competitive," said team manager Davide Brivio.

"It will be interesting to check further where we stand with the performance, our competitiveness and potential will become clearer and clearer with each race.

"I believe for Alex it will be important to be consistent with the performance he did in Qatar; staying close to the top riders both in practice and the race. Also with Andrea we can be competitive, he took positive experience from Qatar and we can improve his performance.

"It will be an interesting race, we are still at the beginning but it could be a good opportunity to assess our performance for the rest of the season.”

While last year's race was a disappointment for Suzuki - Iannone suffering a ride-through penalty after jumping the start and Rins battling an injury - the GSX-RR previously performed well at Termas de Rio Hondo in the hands of Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro.

“Argentina represents good memories for us, especially if I go back to 2015 and 2016, but we had some tougher times here last year," Brivio confirmed.

"Alex arrived with an injured foot which made riding pretty tough for him, while Andrea had a ride-through which complicated his race and also we started there to suspect some issues with the machine [the 2017 engine design] which we had to start facing.

"This year I believe we can approach this second race with more confidence."

Rins, a podium finisher at the circuit in Moto2, is happy to return.

“I’m positive about going to Termas de Rio Hondo because the circuit is something special and I like it," he said. "I remember that last year I came to Argentina with an injury on my foot, and despite this I have good memories of the track - so that means it’s really nice!

"Another good thing about this place is the people: the fans are really close to us and the whole location turns into a big party when welcoming the MotoGP people.”

While Rins didn’t finish last year's race due to pain from his foot, Iannone was left in 16th place after the ride-through, having also survived contact from Jorge Lorenzo at turn one.

“I head to Argentina with positive feelings, as I remember that last year we could perform quite well here. The circuit is one I like and the GSX-RR is well suited to the layout," said the Italian.

"Last year my feelings were good, unfortunately we had to do a ride-through penalty in the race which took me out of contention for the top positions, but the performance and the pace were very competitive.

"I’m expecting good team work to help me improve session by session, together we’ll work on all the small things that once they are put together they can make a good performance overall.

"The first races are always important to give the right direction to the rest of the season, I want to try to seize this GP at 100%."

Suzuki is yet to confirm any riders for its 2019 MotoGP line-up. Rins is tipped to stay, but the future of former Ducati race winner Iannone is less certain.

The factory is understood to again be interested in Johann Zarco, overlooked in favour of Rins for the 2017 seat, but KTM still seems favourite to secure the Frenchman's services.



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