Team Suzuki Press Office – September 2nd
Alex Rins: 14th – 1’32.365 (+ 0.848)
Kazuki Watanabe: 25th – 1’36.019 (+ 4.502)
An air of excitement filled the Team Suzuki Ecstar pitbox on Friday morning as Kazuki Watanabe, substituting for the injured Joan Mir, made his MotoGP debut at the Misano World Circuit. The Japanese rider took a steady approach to the first session of the day, while Alex Rins showed strong early pace as he jumped into 2nd place. The times were tight at the top as always, and Alex closed FP1 in 8th place, just half a second from first place.
Warmer conditions in FP2 meant the session was prime for good performances, but with everyone pushing hard, crashes were almost guaranteed. Alex was hampered by an off at Turn 15, just when he was getting into his rhythm at the half-way point of the session. He quickly returned to the track for a last push, but missed the Top 10 by a small amount: less than a tenth of a second. Nevertheless, he felt positive about the early feel of his GSX-RR in San Marino.
Kazuki Watanabe improved his time by more than a second compared with the morning session, and this boost put him within 105% of the top time, the necessary ‘cut off’ to be allowed to continue and race. Both Watanabe and the team were proud of this achievement on the opening day.
“Today was a good day, and I was unlucky with the crash because it dropped my confidence and then I didn’t really have time to push again. Before that I was getting quicker and feeling pretty good, especially my pace. When I had my crash, I had an incident with a marshal because he grabbed me and it set my airbag off, and I’ve already been to apologise, but I’d like to say again that I’m sorry for him. Let’s hope the weather stays dry tomorrow and we hope that in FP3 we can make the cut for qually.”
“In the beginning it was a real debut, it’s practically the first time I’ve ridden this bike or this track, so it was a strange feeling but a great one. Lap by lap, I got used to the bike more and gained confidence in FP2 – which was more difficult in FP1 because it was all a bit overwhelming, everything on this bike is extreme compared with the superbike. Towards the end of today I really started to enjoy riding, so I’m ready to try again tomorrow.”
Livio Suppo - Team Manager
“Alex was doing a good job in FP1 and the beginning of FP2, but unfortunately, he had a crash when he switched onto the hard tyre and he lost a bit of confidence and time - which meant he couldn’t get into the Top 10. But, despite the crash, he’s had a good start to the weekend. I’m very happy for Kazuki, he’s improving step by step, it’s not easy to get into the 105%, and he’s already achieved this target so we’re feeling good.”