Alex Rins, MotoGP's newest race winner, is expecting a fierce battle in front of his home Spanish fans at Jerez this weekend.

The Suzuki star, who took his debut premier-class victory after holding off Valentino Rossi in COTA, arrives in Europe holding third in the world championship and just five points from leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

But if the points tally began at Motegi last October, Rins would be the top scorer with 116, followed by Dovizioso with 105 and Marquez with 95.

In terms of this weekend, the areas of new asphalt will provide an unknown factor, but Rins is confident the GSX-RR can again be competitive.

“I think Jerez can be a good track for us, it suits the GSX-RR’s characteristics pretty well despite the fact that it’s a very demanding layout," Rins said.

"There are some hard-braking areas which will require us to have a perfect set-up. There will be some patches with new tarmac, which may give us some extra benefit, although it will be the same conditions for everyone.

"I’m happy to go to Jerez and finally start the European rounds, which are very different from all the previous races: Qatar, Argentina and Texas are unique circuits, each one is sort of 'one of a kind' and must be approached as such. But from now on it will be very important to be consistent and keep on one path.

"Also, the circuit is very narrow, so the fight will be very fierce in the race. I’m excited to get into ‘race mode’ in front of the home fans.”

The narrow nature of the circuit also means Suzuki's qualifying speed will need to be addressed, with Rins starting no higher than seventh so far this season.

Rookie team-mate and countryman Joan Mir will be making his first MotoGP appearance in front of the Spanish fans, where he will seek a return to the eighth place form in Qatar after failing to score in Argentina (DNF) and Austin (jump start).

“One thing is for certain; I can’t wait to ride my bike again and prepare a very good race in Jerez!" he said. "I want to immediately get rid of the bad memory from Austin. I made a small mistake which ended with a big penalty, and it was a shame because I had strong pace.

"However, I’m confident we can progress very quickly in the next races, because as a Team we have proven that our performance level is comparable to the top teams and bikes, and because I feel very confident on the bike and with my crew.

"We’ve progressed well already in these three early races, and for sure we have good potential for a consistent and high level performance at the next races. It will be nice to be back in Spain and see the fans too!”

On the technical side, Mir's crew chief Frankie Carchedi warned the track can be unforgiving.

“Jerez is very particular, and if you have any issues with your set-up, Jerez will expose them!" he said. "For all the manufacturers it’s a very important track for that reason, because it’s a good way to check how good your set-up really is.

"Generally, if your bike works well at Jerez you’ll have a good year, because it will also work well at any other track. It’s a very flowing track with a lot of fast corners, which is usually good for our bike. But there’s also hard braking and it’s always very challenging.”

Suzuki has scored 49 points in the Constructor’s World Championship so far this season, which is the factory's best start to a premier class season since 2000, when Kenny Roberts Jr won the title.

Free practice begins on Friday morning.

 

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