Suzuki's first day in Portugal was certainly better than what Joan Mir and Alex Rins had experienced in November last year at the final GP of the season. On that occasion the Portimao track had offered the public a GSX-RR with a few too many problems with Mir only managing to finish in sixth position while Rins had to be satisfied with seventeenth fastest time. After that Friday Suzuki's weekend became even more complicated, especially that of Mir who today, thanks to his third position and the sensations experienced on the bike, has more of a smile on his face.
“Today everything was easier thanks to my good pace in FP1 - said the world champion - I tried to go well with all the compounds and then with the soft I also did a good fast lap. Last year I had an engine problem here in Portimao but in any case the sensations were good and I was sure the Suzuki could go fast, today I proved it. "
Mir: "Marquez has reached 100% and can push”
Marc Marquez got back on track today and immediately showed he could be part of the game. Are you other pilots a bit shocked by this show of force? Does it make you feel a bit less confident?
“I was not surprised by Marquez's performance, we know that here the Honda works well and they are all fast. And the potential that Marc has, that he has reached 100% and can push. He clearly knows how to ride a MotoGP bike and it is normal that he is going that fast. I'm not surprised by anything, because of everything he has done, the only thing I expect from him is to be at that level. What the others do is their problem, I try to give the maximum and go home satisfied.”
For an opponent who returns to the track there is a crew chief, Frankie Carchedi, who remains in isolation with Covid. Carchedi is one of the main men behind Mir's world title victory in 2020, what does the Spaniard lose without his right-hand man?
“Actually I'm happy with the situation, with Frankie at home everything is more difficult but we are handling it well. This week I'm followed by Tom O'Kane who doesn't want to show off too much, he just wants to work and that's good. Anyway, Frankie is in the shadows, we talk a lot and he is in an isolated room and therefore he is actually working just as he would on the track, perhaps more so since he is constantly in touch with Tom and with Claudio Rainato, my electronic engineer. It is a pity that he caught Covid because he always does everything very carefully, this reminds us how this virus is unpredictable ".
What is the goal for tomorrow’s qualifying?
"Today the track was in worse condition than last year, there was little grip but we still managed to make a big leap forward with the new tyres, almost a second and it's not something we do often. I hope that tomorrow we will find more grip on the track and we will see how much I can improve ”.
Rins: "Now I understand what my problems were last year at Portimao"
On the other side of the Suzuki garage, Alex Rins enjoys fourth position despite his seventeenth place last year at the end of Friday. Today the Spaniard managed to work correctly on the Suzuki but what has changed compared to four months ago?
“The bike is exactly the same as in 2020. Last year I didn't understand the reason for my difficulties in Portimao, but today everything was clearer: I didn't have enough strength. This is a physically demanding track and I was not fully in shape with my shoulder due to the injury at the start of the year and all the fatigue accumulated during the season. Now I more in form, I have gained more muscle mass and above all I do not have the bone edema that I had last season. Here in Portimao in 2020 I was unable to do more than three laps at the same pace ”.
What was the day's work like? What did you focus on at Suzuki?
“Today was a good day. In the morning the track conditions were very complicated but I still wanted to search for the limit and I finished second. In FP2 the initial plan was to try and compare the medium rear tyre with the hard one but then I realized that there was not enough grip and I stayed with the medium until the time attack. This morning we saw that if it rains at night the track may not dry in time and therefore it is good to be already in Q2 ”.
Physical conditions are very important in MotoGP, which Qatar race tried you the most?
“I was absolutely more tired after Race 1 because I had to push to close the gap from the leaders. In race 2, on the other hand, I was already in the group and it was easier to keep the pace especially in the fast corners ”.