He may still consider his rider “almost a rookie” but Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio is “absolutely” convinced Alex Rins has the tools at his disposal to steer the factory’s MotoGP development direction this winter in his new role as lead rider.

At 23 years of age, Rins is by some way the youngest rider to lead a factory effort in the premier class, but Brivio foresees few issues on the road ahead, mainly because the Spaniard has crucial experience from last winter.

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From observing Rins, five times a podium finisher across 2018, at close quarters, Brivio sees a rider capable of offering clear, precise feedback during testing in which Suzuki intends to only make ‘evolutions’ from this year’s GSX-RR.

“I have to say that already in the past winter [2017-18] Alex made his own selection with his own parts,” Brivio told Crash.net. “In the winter we tested chassis, engines, swingarms and various parts with both Alex and Andrea [Iannone].

“Alex made his own selection and he built up his own package, which is what he’s using. We find Alex is quite sensitive and quite good in development and understanding what he likes, what he needs.

“I would say he’s ready to do this job, because he already did it this year. Maybe at the beginning having the help of Sylvain [Guintoli, Suzuki test rider] can be nice, can be interesting for him to get confirmation, a double-check from another rider.”

Five podiums and a seven-race run of top six finishes in the season’s autumn propelled Rins to fifth in the championship, his points haul 33 shy of Maverick Viñales’ exceptional effort for the factory in 2016.

“We are happy because Alex is improving race-by-race, he’s learning and growing up,” said Brivio. “He’s fast. It’s already a few races since Austria, where, even at the end he had to slow down because of the tyre. But Argentina was a special race. Then he got the podium at Assen in a big fight with all the best riders.

“Then in Austria, Misano, Aragon especially and again in Thailand, he’s always been in the top group, and close to the fastest riders. So that is very nice and very encouraging. Still we are working. We still consider him almost a rookie – he’s still learning. We’ll see where we can arrive.”

While team-mate Iannone complained of extreme rear tyre wear in the latter stages of several races across the year, Rins was the opposite. His tyre and “race management” are particular traits that have impressed Brivio during a two-year stint in the premier class. 

“I’d like to say that especially Alex is very good on managing the tyres as a rider skill. For instance, at Misano and other situations, where the tyres were a bit of an issue and we needed him to manage, he did a good job,” said Brivio.

“He’s able to do that when it’s necessary. So he’s managing it well. He’s young, and is already at a good level in terms of race management.

“Sometimes he does great things and he makes it look as though it’s easy for him; not easy, but natural. Maybe he does a good lap time or a good position in a race, and it looks as though he hasn’t done a big effort.

“We have to work on this, to use this talent and the target is to be constant for one season. The target is to work more during the practice to qualify better and be more in front for the race. There are many small things around that could help him become a better rider.”

Not that he expects Rins to be leading the lines for long. New arrival Mir has already proved he possesses the talent to make a name at the highest level.

“But I also expect that Joan Mir won’t take too long, in the sense that at the beginning being a rookie he will be much more concentrated on his riding – finding the line then how to ride the motorcycle.

“Once he is initially stable then he will start to think about trying different parts and seeing the difference. Joan is a type of rider that can do this job, but at the beginning this is not his priority, to select the package.

“At the beginning I expect him to trust in Alex’s job and maybe follow him. Then we have seen already with Maverick, with Alex that quite soon they start to find their own way to find what they like, what they need for this progression.”

Click here to read the full interview with Davide Brivio.

 

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