Alex Rins is convinced he had the pace to battle Maverick Vinales for victory in Sunday's Dutch MotoGP round.

But the Suzuki rider will never know after crashing out of the lead on lap 3.

The Spaniard had felt "unbelievable, better than ever and leading the group easily" with the only warning of what was to come being a wheelie on the exit of Turn 8.

"We did a very good start and I was riding very well, with a lot of confidence," said Rins, who had converted his front row qualifying into the holeshot at turn one.

"But on the exit of Turn 8 I did a little bit more wheelie than normal and then I braked a little harder and completely lost the front immediately.

"I think it was the wind, because after the wheelie the front wheel was back on the floor, so this was no problem. And there was no problem with the brakes. I braked maybe 2 or 3 metres later than the Warm Up, but not 10 metres later.

"It was a strange, strange crash.

"We lost a chance to win for sure. Now after the race we will never know, but I'm convinced that with our pace, our rhythm, I was able to hold Maverick," added Rins, who took a debut MotoGP victory in Austin this year.

"My strategy was to get to the front and try to split the lead group. We saw after 10 laps, Quartararo, Dovi and everybody else's lap times went down and during practice we were able to keep that rhythm going.

"Anyway, I couldn't complete my strategy!

"But these last two weekends have been very positive for us. We are strong, we showed the others that we are there, so let's keep working for the Sachsenring."

Rookie team-mate Joan Mir spent the opening two laps directly behind Rins, before eventually slipping back to eighth.

Rins is now fourth in the world championship, 59 points behind title leader Marc Marquez (Honda) who finished second to Vinales.

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