On the eve of the first official MotoGP test of 2017 at Sepang International Circuit, Team Suzuki Ecstar presented its line-up for the season which includes two new riders – Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins. Iannone has been in the premier class since 2013, joining the MotoGP ranks with Pramac Ducati and subsequently moving to the factory Ducati team, where he stayed until the close of the 2016 season.
“I’m really happy to start this new adventure! Suzuki for me has always been an icon of motorcycle racing and I hope to gain the affection of fans and enthusiasts as the great riders who have been part of the history of this great team,” said Iannone in a team press release. “The coming season is a big challenge, but at the same a huge motivation for me after some years riding for the same brand. This change of direction in my career is so stimulating and I’m eager to return Suzuki with all the interest and affection they have demonstrated to me. I look forward to kicking-off the new season with the new blue colors and do my best to try to achieve the best results possible for the team!”
Rins makes his MotoGP debut in 2017 after three seasons in Moto3 (2012 to 2014) and two seasons in Moto2 (2015 to 2016). He took second overall in the 2015 Moto2 championship and second in the 2013 Moto3 championship. The 21-year old got off to a rough start back in November, taking a tumble during the second day of testing at Valencia and suffering lesions on thoracic vertebra T8 and T12. He was forced to sit out the remainder of the test as a result of the injury, but thankfully there were no major repercussions and he’s now ready to start dialing-in his new GSX-RR 1000.
“The main objective of any rider in the world is to reach the MotoGP category because it is the maximum expression of motorcycling,” said Rins in the Suzuki Ecstar release. “Then doing it with the hand of Suzuki is the best way I could ever have imagined. The team is amazing at the very first sight and the treatment they have given me since the first minute is fantastic. The bike is awesome as well so I am very pleased, very motivated and very grateful to Suzuki for the trust placed in me. It’s going to be a fantastic year in which we will learn a lot and that’s our main goal from the beginning. The Valencia accident was a setback in our plans, but we are working very hard to counteract it. I’m looking forward to getting back on my Suzuki GSX-RR and meeting my new ‘family’ in the box.”
“This season is going our third season after coming back to MotoGP and we have so many expectations for that,” explained Satoru Terada, Team Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader. “We worked really hard to improve and develop the bike during last two years and we could see the results coming out throughout 2016, so we feel happy checking out the direction we took was the correct one. Now we are pretty focused on 2017 and with the same hunger. We think we’ve got a really good GSX-RR base for the coming season and we have to still improve in some areas like electronics, but overall we are satisfied. We are keen to see how our performance is at this very first test of 2017 in Sepang and compare with our rivals where we are. Furthermore, I would like to welcome our new riders Andrea and Alex to the team. Hopefully together we will do a nice job!”
“The 2017 season will be important for us because it is already the third consecutive season since returning to MotoGP,” added Team Manager Davide Brivio. “We are no longer rookies so we must try to get closer to the other rivals. In addition, we have as a great incentive two new riders. I think Andrea Iannone is mature and is ready to achieve great goals if we are able to give him a good package with the bike. And in the other side of the garage Alex Rins, with whom we started a new adventure, a young driver with great talent and we will try to guide him to the top of MotoGP. This is why we are looking at an interesting season, but we know it will be difficult because all the teams have been very strong. It looks like 2017 will be a crucial year for everyone for different reasons, so we will face a very strong group of opponents. But we want to be with them, we want to try to be in the fight and get closer to the top, so we must try with Andrea at the first moment and, once he gains experience, I think Alex will be in a position to do so.”
Photos and quotes courtesy of Suzuki Racing.