"Our goal now is the second win as soon as possible"

Shinichi Sahara Interview - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Project Leader

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In 2019, the last part of the season saw a strong Alex Rins and also a consistent bike. What changed this season to make one more step forward?

Yes, the balance of our bike last year was really good and I think it matched perfectly with Alex’s riding style permitting us to get some nice results especially in the second part of the season. For this season we developed the 2019 GSX-RR to gain its total performance by many small changes with keeping good balance or achieving even better balance and at the moment we can be happy with the results we are having.  

What are right now the strength points of the GSX-RR?

I think the strongest points of our GSX-RR would be turning performance and Rider’s confidence due to good feedback from the bike. 

And the weakest ones?

This is secret… (laughs)

This season Alex assumed the role of rider number 1 to set the path of the development. How is he doing his new commitment?

Alex and his technical crew do understand how their evaluations are important to determine the way of our development. So far they have been working really well and we can feel it. Hopefully we will continue in the same way during the entire season. 

It is encouraging to have two young and talented riders working together and stimulating each other and pushing the whole team to improve

After a fantastic and historic win in COTA, Alex got a great second position in Jerez. Is this one of the best moments for Suzuki in 20 years. How can this stimulate the team and the factory work?

I lived the US win at home, in Japan, and was a great moment. Luckily in Jerez I could live on site the second position with Alex and it was really nice to live with all the team. I think with these results either the team or the factory engineers now know that the efforts from each member of them affect the race results, and then they respect each other much more and the stimulus are higher. This makes their motivation even higher, I do believe.

Alongside Alex is now Joan, a rookie rider. Alex lived a similar position two years ago but in the opposite way. How can this affect him this position? Do you think he could ride with more pressure now?

I don’t think so. Better to ask Alex. But it is true, now he is in the position of the experienced rider and besides has to face a youngest rider. I think is very positive and honestly speaking it is also encouraging to have two young and talented riders working together and stimulating each other and pushing the whole team to improve. 

What about Joan. Despite a difficult beginning of the Championship, how do you evaluate his performance and his skills?

I have no doubt that he is talented to be one of top riders in the coming years. He is learning very quickly even from his small mistakes but at this point it is normal. Every single issue is experience you gain to be better in the future. 

Alex is in the position of the experienced rider and Joan is talented to be one of top riders in the coming years

The first goal for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR this 2019 was to get a win and that happened in the third race. Now which is the next step?

The second win as early as possible. And honestly speaking we are working really hard to get this. We have the tools this year for try to repeat this objective. 

What margin of improvement has the GSX-RR in the coming races?

The small improvement makes big difference for the results now. In this meaning we still have plenty margin to improve but we have to consider also our rivals have margin of improvement. Let’s see who works better and what is going on in the coming races.

It seems Suzuki accomplish steps firmly in the development of the bike with no rush. Is it part of the philosophy of the brand?

It is the philosophy of the Suzuki Racing Company for sure. It is better so make steps with some confidence and calmly to achieve better results and do not make big mistakes that then stop your way.

Could Suzuki dream in a Championship or is it better to think race by race?

For me, race by race. It is more intelligent and reasonable. 

Where are you more focused right now in the bike from a technical point of view?

This is another secret... (Honestly I never focus in one point but always try to gain total performance)