If one track stands out as special for Alex Rins during his grand prix career it's surely COTA, venue for this weekend's Americas MotoGP.

Rins' took his first grand prix victory in the Moto3 class during the circuit's inaugural 2013 event, a first Moto2 podium in 2015, a Moto2 victory in 2016 and finally a first MotoGP win in 2019.

That MotoGP victory ended six years of dominance for Marc Marquez, who fell from the lead, leaving Rins and Suzuki locked in a close battle with Yamaha's nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi.

Rins has taken two more MotoGP victories since, at Silverstone 2019 and Aragon 2020, but the Covid pandemic meant the new father has had to wait until this weekend to get another chance to compete at COTA.

“I’m so happy to come back to Texas! I got my debut MotoGP win here in 2019 and it was such a special race – a really great battle with Rossi, a big crowd, and really nice celebrations with my team," said Rins.

"I’ll start the weekend with these happy memories in my mind, and I really hope to bring home another great result; last week I became a father and that’s even more motivation for a good weekend!

"I know our bike can do well around this track… From turn 2 to 10 is a fast and beautiful sector in which you have to draw the right line.

"At the same time, I think we have to be realistic and assume that the back straight will be difficult for us in the race, especially if we have more powerful bikes nearby."

A string of early-season DNFs sunk Rins title hopes, but the Spaniard would go a long way towards redeeming those errors if he can hand Suzuki a first win of the season, with only four rounds remaining.

Rins team-mate and reigning champion Joan Mir is currently third in the championship but also yet to stand on the top step in 2021 and has now slipped 67 points behind Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha).

Both GSX-RR riders worked on improving the Suzuki ride-height device as well as trying a prototype 2022 engine and chassis during the recent Misano test, Mir later revealing he might even use the frame – which helped with braking stability - in the remaining rounds of this season.

Mir has a best of fourth place, in Moto2, from his four previous COTA appearances,

“COTA is a place I’m not very familiar with – I have ridden here in the smaller classes but only once on the MotoGP bike, in my rookie year, because we weren’t able to come here during the height of the pandemic last year," Mir said.

“COTA is one of the most extreme tracks on the calendar. It is tricky because it has a first turn with a super steep climb and a corner of almost ninety degrees in first gear, as at this circuit demands a good technique on braking.

"It is also combined with sectors one and two, which are linked curves. It is important to have a good speed on them. It is important to be fast in that area because good lap times are made there.

"The trickiest part may be sectors two and three, with changes of direction that are physically more difficult, it is important to find the right line. If not, then you waste plenty of time there.

"I have good expectations, as in every round of the season. I will try to go out, do my best and see where we are. It will be very important to feel good from FP1 because this is a difficult track and we haven't been at for a long time, so the challenge is to be fast right from the start.”