Alex Rins signed off on six years with the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP squad by claiming victory at Valencia on Sunday afternoon.
And a decisive victory at that. Rins took charge from the first corner of the 27-lap race - from fifth on the grid - and never looked back. Crossing the line three tenths of a second clear of a rapidly approaching Brad Binder, after the KTM had dispatched longtime runner up Jorge Martin, Rins maintained his advantage until the flag to claim his second victory in the closing three races of a turbulent 2022.
“It was amazing to the finish the season like this,” Rins said after the celebrations. “Suzuki is leaving so I couldn’t do it better, getting the first position.
“From the beginning till the end was quite good, but at the same time difficult, difficult to manage.
“First of all, during this weekend, many emotions comes to my body, to my mind. So I tried to keep it out of sight because yesterday, the quali was so important and we did it quite well starting, on P5. Also, the concentration was so difficult. During the grid I was saying ‘bye bye’ to the mechanics and I was crying, all the emotions comes to me. At the same point I say ‘Alex come on, be focused because you have a race’.
“We did a great start going first on the first corner and then was not easy to control this race because Jorge was super fast and Brad was coming so, so fast also. So I couldn’t do any mistake. I try to do my line, to don’t do any mistakes, controlling the tyres and in the end we did it.
“We saw again, that with a Suzuki we can get the victory. They took the decision in the fourth race to close the racing line in MotoGP. So I give it my 100 per cent. This is the 100 per cent!”
The win was a poignant and popular conclusion to a difficult season for the Suzuki team, after the Japanese factory announced in May it was to cease the racing project at the close of 2022. A decision that shocked the entire MotoGP paddock.
“Was super special to see all the members of the team, happy, smiling, crying, was superb,” Rins continued, on what Sunday’s result meant to the departing staff. “Nothing more I can say.
“For sure tomorrow, I’m going to another box, with a new chapter of my life. I’m excited but at the same time I’m sad because six seasons with Suzuki. We learned a lot, we win together, we lose together, we cry together. So it’s going to be difficult but it was not in my hands. As I say on Thursday, I will give my 100 per cent this race and the result - if we win, if we finish out of the podium - if I give the 100 per cent I will be happy. I will be like done. So we did it. I’m super proud. Because we really deserved this.
“It’s super special. When I go into the Parc Fermé I was looking at the rear tyre to see how was the tyre and I saw all the names of the Suzuki members, of my mechanics written in hand, so this was super emotional for me. All the messages from the fans that they put in the bike, I mean, we did it well. Getting the victory, so was good!”
When asked if his victory, and that from Phillip Island, was a message to Hamamatsu that the decision to quit the World Championship was ‘ridiculous and irrational’, Rins replied: “I didn’t say, you say it!
“I don’t know,” he continued. “In the end every time I jump on the bike and I go on the track, I tried to give it everything. I think I did a good job for Suzuki. Getting a competitive bike, a winning bike. Joan [Mir] gets the World Championship. We did a lot of work.
“In the end what they told to us is that they are closing because they have another plans to do in the future, something related with the environment. So I totally respect. In the end is not easy, because as you say we have a competitive bike, today, this year was really amazing. They make an incredible step on the engine. We were, if not over taking, we were going there with the Ducatis but is their decision. I cannot do nothing and I cannot say nothing because in the end they give to me a lot. I give to them a lot. So it is what it is.
“It affects me a lot.,” he admitted on the initial announcement. “Can be the most difficult time of my career because I always had everything under control and after Jerez I didn’t know if I was racing next year. To race without having no contracts on the table, was not easy for me. Also, the races that we were hitting with another rider and I was crashing, then in Montmeló we had the big collision and I broke my hand. Nothing was going good.
“In home I worked so hard with my psychologist to stay like full 100 per cent concentrate because it was not easy, but at least we did it.”
While Rins has struggled throughout the difficult farewell season at Suzuki, 2023 could be just as tricky. From Tuesday, he jumps across to LCR Honda, with the RC213V proving a temperamental beast for all four HRC riders over the past two season.
“Sincerely, I’m not worried about this,” Rins confirmed. “I’m so excited to try a different bike because six years with the same one, sometimes the changes are good.
“In the end Honda is Honda. They will do a competitive bike. We saw Marc testing the new items this last races and he was there. I mean, in Phillip Island I was fighting with him, I saw more or less how the bike was. Also in Malaysia we were fighting together and, okay the bike maybe it’s not the best on the grid with this last package - with different swingarm and the winglets and everything - but Honda is Honda. So for sure they will do again a competitive bike.”