Following another impressive MotoGP test in Mandalika, Alex Rins has his sights set on a podium finish in Qatar despite qualifying performance remaining an issue.
Rins, who ended the final day of pre-season testing early, finished four tenths away from Repsol Honda rider Pol Espargaro - second time in three days the Spaniard was fastest at Mandalika.
The Suzuki rider has not finished outside the top ten in any of the five days testing, and with significant steps made regarding the GSR-RR’ 2022 engine, Rins is already feeling ready to race despite lacking pace over one lap, an issue that’s plagued Suzuki for over three seasons.
Rins said: "Well, overall we had a good day. More than today, we did a good five days in Sepang and here in Mandalika.
"I had a very good feeling with the bike and I think we improved quite a lot. I’m quite happy and I feel ready for the first race in Qatar.
"I don’t know if we improved in our qualifying laps. I tried to make a simulation here this morning and we finished fifth at 0.4s. It’s still far away.
"But overall I’m happy because the bike is a little bit faster and the thing that impressed me more during these tests was the engine.
"It’s not easy to put more horsepower in the engine and keep the same identity of the engine. Sometimes it takes time to make the first touch of the throttle, but sincerely, at Jerez, Malaysia and here the engine was quite good."
Rins, who had a disastrous 2021 season when it came to crashes during race situations, feels his change in mindset is already benefiting him as he aims to convert Suzuki’s strong testing pace into a podium at Losail.
Asked about his targets for the year, Rins added: "I don’t know. For this year I’ve done it (prepared) different compared to last year. I will try to go race-by-race which for me is the best way.
"The target is to make a podium in Qatar. After that we will set another target for Mandalika."
While it was another good day at the office for Rins, who has consistently been Suzuki’s quickest rider, team-mate and 2020 world champion Joan Mir was unable to take part on day three due to a stomach bug.
The Spanish rider woke up feeling unwell, and after making his way to the track a decision was made not to ride.
In a statement from the team, Mir said: "This morning when I woke up I felt something strange in my stomach, like everything was moving.
"After having some breakfast I went to the track, but once I was there, in the office I started to feel much worse and I started to throw up. Then the doctor came to my office to try to help me but in the end I had to go back to the hotel because I was completely exhausted.
"My physical condition has stopped me today, I had no power to ride the bike and this also conditioned our plan. I felt very bad today but these things happen and in the end I have some good conclusions from the first and second day.
"I think we will arrive quite ready for the first race in Qatar despite all the inconveniences we found during the last two days here in Mandalika."