Alex Rins is one of the rising stars of Moto3. Rins is part of the generation which, along with Alex Marquez and Jack Miller, the factory bosses in MotoGP are looking to shake up the premier class in the future. After a strong season last year aboard the KTM in 2013, when he won six races, Rins has had a tougher season in 2014, now riding a Honda. On the podium just four times until Silverstone, a win had so far eluded him when we spoke to him on Thursday at Silverstone. That all changed on Sunday, when he finally won his first race of the season.
We covered quite a lot of ground with Rins, despite his protestations that he did not speak very good English. Rins spoke simply, but clearly of his year so far with the Honda, comparing it with the KTM he rode for the Estrella Galicia team last year. He talked of the difficulty of winning in Moto3, because of how close the field is at the front, and how that caused him to cheer a lap too early at Brno. And we touched briefly on his future, and the interest Yamaha showed in him to go straight to MotoGP.
MotoMatters: In 2013, you had a very strong season, you were winning races. This year has been a lot more difficult. You switched from KTM to Honda, the Honda has had to have some development. Tell me about this year?
Alex Rins: This year compared to 2013 it's very different. Last year I had only three rivals, this year I have more rivals, nine, ten. Sometimes nineteen, like in the last race! It's difficult, also to develop the bike, it's difficult. It's not easy.
MM: Is the Honda very different to the KTM? Have you had to change your riding style?
AR: Yes, it's very different. I also changed my riding style. It's different in everything, in the brakes, when you open the gas, corner entry, corner exit. The positive point of this bike is maybe the middle and exit of the corner. It's turning a little bit better than KTM. But for example on the KTM, the brakes, the brake point is better. More stable.
MM: Honda made a big step with the engine from last year. Is the engine strong enough to race against the KTMs this year? Is it strong enough in acceleration?
AR: Compared to last year with the Honda engines, Honda worked a lot on this project, on this bike. We improved it a lot in the engine, but also in the bike. The bike is much faster than last year, but for sure, KTM has also improved its engine as well.
MM: Is the improvement in the top speed or acceleration?
AR: In all the parts, it's stronger everywhere compared with the Honda engine from last year.
MM: You have been more competitive in recent races, but you have still not been close to a win. What do you need to get a win?
AR: Maybe this year we will have the same luck as last year. In many races I have finished fourth, fifth, near the podium, also I finished three times on the podium. But for example in Brno, in the last race, and also in Indianapolis, I was in the group, but finally I think that I need to improve in the final part of the race, the last two or three laps, I need to be more aggressive.
MM: Is this because the group is bigger this year? The Moto3 races this year have been very exciting, at the start of the last lap, you have no idea who will win. This is exciting for the spectators, but as a rider, it must be very frustrating...
AR: Yes, very exciting from the outside, no?
MM: Does this mean that something you need is strategy, about how to race on the last lap, how to approach the last lap?
AR: Maybe it's difficult to do a good strategy. Because you know with a lot of riders, it's difficult to follow one strategy, but sometimes the strategy was OK and we can follow this strategy, but the victory it's not coming.
MM: Is this related to what happened at Brno, when you thought you had won but there was still one lap to go? What went wrong at Brno?
AR: In one big group, it's difficult to see the pit board on all the laps. I saw the last time when it said L3 [3 laps to go] and normally in the last three laps, all the riders start to pass more aggressively, more competitively. And maybe I became confused because of this.
MM: How quickly did you realize there is one more lap to go?
AR: When I saw my mechanics with their heads in their hands, and also later, when Jack and Marquez passed me. I dropped to 16th position, and later I tried to pass all the riders I could, riding at 100%, but I couldn't.
MM: Will Silverstone be another race with a big group at the front?
AR: Maybe. Because with this track, especially it has two long straights, maybe the group will be big. It's not like at Brno, so maybe not with nineteen riders, but here I think the race will be with nine, ten riders.
MM: But it will be impossible to escape, go away on your own?
AR: In the small category, it's difficult. If for example one rider is in front on the first laps, and second, third, fourth all start to pass aggressively, then maybe the first rider can take a little bit of a gap, but it's difficult in the small categories.
MM: Do you know what you are doing next year yet?
AR: I know the category. I know for sure I will go to Moto2, but I don't know with which team. [Rins is believed to have signed with the Pons team in Moto2 - MM]
MM: But it's definitely the right moment for you to go to Moto2?
MM: There was also talk of you going to MotoGP, Yamaha were very interested in you. How does it feel to know that the factories in MotoGP are also interested in you?
AR: For sure it is a great satisfaction because of this. But I want to go step by step, category by category. I think that the Miller thing, that he will go to MotoGP, it's a little bit strange, because here, now, we ride a small bike, and then next year on the big bike, the really big one.
MM: To go from 85 kg and 60 hp to 160kg and 250 hp is a big step...
AR: Exactly. Maybe too big a step.