Suzuki can't be defined a surprise for these winter tests, considering the 9 podiums last year but, without a doubt, Hamamatsu's bike took another step forward to get in line with the best opponents, thanks to a GSX-RR that seems to have matured, like Alex Rins.
"I would say that this winter preparation is going well," smiles team manager Davide Brivio. "We're following our program. I'm pleasantly surprised by our speed, and I've seen Alex grown and matured."
Rins has become the beacon of the team, a responsibility that's no small endeavor...
"I told Alex that he should have been our captain, and he's doing what we asked him in the best of ways. Already in the winter of last year, he had worked well, preparing the bike according to his tastes. Now he has more experience, and this also guarantees greater tranquility and security."
If Rins is the captain, what role should Mir play?
"First of all, I hope we'll have two captains soon (he laughs). I asked Joan to have fun and play with the bike for a year. We're convinced that he has a great talent and that he can become a top rider in MotoGP. It's just a matter of time."
You got it right with Vinales and Rins...
"Maverick won a race in his second year, Alex climbed on the podium 5 times having virtually skipped half a season in 2017 due to injuries. I don't know how long it will take Mir to be competitive, but we have confidence in the way he's growing."
Honda, Ducati, and Yamaha have official teams with already experienced riders. Why does Suzuki always bet on novices?
"We like the idea of growing our riders at home. I know I have two talented riders, and I think they can both become top riders. We only need time, and we'll have to be good to put them in a condition where they can take advantage of their full potential."
Have you ever thought about taking on a rider who's already a champion?
"Right now, like I said, our ambition is to win with a rider who has grown with us. I know it's a more difficult path to take, but that's what we decided."
Having a satellite team would allow you to do both...
"Surely, we could adopt a different strategy. There are pros and cons in both things. A novice in a satellite team has more peace of mind, but in an official team, he can immediately understand what pressure he has to deal with."
Could 2020 finally be the year we'll see 4 Suzuki on the track?
"It's early to say. I hope so."
The first GP will take place in less than two weeks. Is your goal to win the race?
"I would certainly love that, but I don't know if it'll be possible because I'm aware of how difficult it is against such strong opponents. Last year, on the other hand, we got close on a couple of occasions, so ... why not try?"