Rins Scores Superb Second in Americas Sprint Race
Recent Honda MotoGP signing Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) rode to a brilliant second place in today’s quickfire ten-lap sprint at the Circuit of the Americas, completing an excellent first two days at the three-day event, the second round of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship.
Rins has been on the ever since practice got underway yesterday, proving his prowess around this incredibly complex circuits, that numbers no less than 20 corners.
The 27-year-old Spaniard ended a close a third fastest, just two tenths of a second off the fastest time and repeated that in today’s Q2 qualifying session to secure himself a place on the front row of the grid for the sprint race and tomorrow’s full-length Grand Prix.
He had to fight incredibly hard in the sprint, leading into the first corner then chasing winner Pecco Bagnaia, before settling into a strong battle with Aleix Espargaro. The pair overtook and re-overtook, until Rins made second place his own with a stunning overtake.
Now he will debrief with his engineers and examine their data, to best prepare for tomorrow’s 20-lap Grand Prix race, which carries roughly double the points of the sprint. Rins is hopeful that another strong start will allow him to fight for a first MotoGP Grand Prix podium with Honda.
And his feedback from this excellent performance will help Honda engineers look into further improving the RC213V for upcoming races.
Yesterday Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) returned from the neck and ankle injuries he sustained following a collision with another rider during the Argentine sprint race two weeks ago.
The 25-year-old Spaniard took his time to get back in the groove and then showed some excellent speed. At one point yesterday the 2020 MotoGP World Champion was the fastest man at COTA and he may have made it into Q2 if another rider hadn’t crashed right in front of him at the end of the P2 afternoon session, which decides the Q1/Q2 line-ups.
Mir therefore started the sprint race from the fifth row of the grid, with the short-race format giving him little chance to recover from that position. He did everything in his power to move forward, despite some lingering pain from his injuries. At the finish he had to be content with 12th, a position he aims to improve in tomorrow’s full-length Grand Prix race.
Rins’ team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) had a minor fall earlier in the day, which didn’t help his preparation for the sprint. The 31-year-old from Chiba nevertheless did well to come through from 17th on the grid to 13th at the finish. Nakagami will learn from Rins’ data overnight and aim to use that knowhow to take him deeper into the point’s tomorrow.
COTA hero Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) is absent this weekend, recovering from a hand injury sustained at last month's season-opening Portuguese GP. His place has therefore been taken by Honda MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who arrived here directly from a gruelling two-day test at Jerez, Spain. The 33-year-old German qualified 21st and finished the spring in 18th position. He will aim to get closer to the points tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s racing is followed by a return to Europe, for the Spanish GP later this month, then the French round in May, then the Italian, German and Dutch events in June.