Alex Rins cited an engine upgrade at Assen as the biggest step made by the Suzuki this season, as the team celebrated its eighth podium of the year in the Malaysian MotoGP.

"Our Suzuki is going very good," said Rins. "The factory deserves it. They have done a really good job during all the season, because since Qatar I felt we had a very competitive bike.

"But it looks like since the middle of the season we did a very big step.

"At Assen, Suzuki brought me a new engine, with a little bit more top-end power, and since this point we improved a lot.

"We were able to hold the slipstream and fight with Yamaha and Honda on the straight. And then also I think the experience of trying to control more the tyres and electronics."

Suzuki's podium success means they will no longer be able to modify the GSX-RR's engine during the 2019 season, and have nine instead of seven changes, due to the loss of technical concessions.

However next year's powerplant has already performed well during tests and a wild-card appearance with Sylvain Guintoli at Motegi.

"Suzuki are now working for next year, taking a lot of information, and already Guintoli is trying a new engine that looks very good," Rins said.

"We will see what happens next year. For sure I will give my best to try to beat these guys and be more constant at the front."

Starting eighth at Sepang, Rins moved steadily up the order, his fourth place becoming a podium position when Valentino Rossi slid off with four laps to go.

But Rins wasn't content, hunting down and passing Johann Zarco on the final lap to claim his fourth rostrum of the year.

"I'm very happy," said Rins. "The race was very difficult, today was the hottest day of the weekend and for sure we struggled a lot in the first laps. We lost a lot of time with the Ducatis because on the straight they have a lot of speed and then they brake really hard.

"In the first part of the race Valentino and Marc escaped and it was impossible to catch them. Then lap-by-lap, when I was trying to catch Pedrosa, I was very concentrated and I was pushing to the limit.

"When I was behind Pedrosa I lost one or two laps, a bit of time, but in the end we arrived also to Johann and this was very important."

Rins is now tied with team-mate Andrea Iannone with four podiums this season, and equal on points with Zarco for fifth place in the world championship heading to the Valencia finale.

"We have eight podiums but the important thing is that Andrea has four and I have four, so we are fighting and we will see what happens in Valencia," Rins said.

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