Alex Rins has signed a new contract with the factory Suzuki Ecstar team for 2019 and 2020. The young Spaniard will stay with the team for two more seasons, as he continues to show the growth expected of him after a difficult rookie season marred by injury. Rins is now the twelfth rider to be confirmed for the 2019 season, and leaves one less factory seat to fill.
The re-signing of Rins had been widely expected. The Spaniard had spoken at Austin of positive progress being made, and the final details were hammered out at Jerez. Rins' first podium in MotoGP helped, taking third place in Argentina, but the fact that he has crashed out of the other three races held so far is a concern. Yet he has consistently shown he has the pace to compete at the front.
With Rins signed, Suzuki will now switch their attention to the second seat. It looks like a decision on who will ride the second Suzuki may yet take some time. Jorge Lorenzo is believed to be the prime contender for the seat, but the five time world champion wants to prove he can be competitive on the Ducati before making a decision. Andrea Iannone's improved form has also complicated matters, the Italian having made a big step forward in 2018. If Dani Pedrosa is available, as expected, then Pedrosa, too, could be an interesting prospect at Suzuki.
With Rins signed, there are now twelve riders with contracts for next year, though all of the factory contracts expire at the end of 2020, setting up another potentially explosive silly season:
- Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales will stay at Yamaha through 2020;
- Marc Marquez will remain at Repsol Honda through 2020;
- Alex Rins will stay a Suzuki rider through 2020;
- Johann Zarco has signed for KTM for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, while Pol Espargaro has extended his contract for two more years;
- Miguel Oliveira will join the Tech3 team, who are switching to KTM for 2019;
- Pecco Bagnaia will move up to the Pramac Ducati for 2019 and 2020;
- Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, and Xavier Simeon all have one more year on the current contracts, and will stay where they are for 2019.
Below is the press release from Suzuki announcing they have signed Rins to a new contract:
RINS TO RACE WITH TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR FOR TWO MORE YEARS
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 17, 10:00hrs CET
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and Alex Rins are happy to announce an agreement which will see the young Spaniard race with the Suzuki GSX-RR for the 2019 and 2020 MotoGP seasons. This two-year extension comes as confirmation of the strong relationship between the rider and the team, as well as acknowledging the consistent improvement of the positive feeling between the rider and the machine.
Alex Rins arrived at Suzuki in 2017, marking his debut in the MotoGP class. Despite a tough start to the season, where he was severely affected by injury, he was able to properly begin his ‘MotoGP adventure’ around the mid-season mark. He demonstrated consistent improvements in his performances and reported an increasingly good feeling with the bike. The partnership then continued into 2018, with Alex showing fast pace and strong performances in the winter test, followed shortly by the success of his first podium in MotoGP; at the Argentina GP this year where he took 3rd place.
Shinichi Sahara – Project Leader
“The renewal of Alex’s contract is a source of great pride for us, especially as we always hoped it to be a project which would last for a long period of time. We started this adventure with him last year with the objective of not only seeing him grow as MotoGP rider, but also to grow and develop ourselves alongside him. I believe that the journey to success is a process that must be advanced step by step, taking the proper time, learning from the mistakes and taking advantage of the successes. Both Alex and his crew, together with all the Suzuki team, have made outstanding progress in this sense, and this is the reason why we’re very happy to have the chance to build up this project for two more years.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“I’m very happy that we have been able to finalise the renewal of Alex’s contract for the 2019 and 2020 MotoGP seasons. Alex is growing and improving fast, and knowing that we will have a long time together allows everybody to concentrate and work even harder to achieve important results with him. I’m glad that Alex was happy to stay with us, and I want to thank Alex’s crew and everyone in the Team, as well as all the staff in Japan for creating a nice environment where he feels he can continue to work well and grow. Now let’s carry on doing a great job with this exciting project together."
“I’m very happy about this contract renewal. Even when I was still in Moto2, and I was planning to move to MotoGP, it was always the Suzuki project which looked brightest and most interesting in my eyes. My debut last year was complicated; there was my back injury in the 2016 Valencia test, then the ankle injury while training, and finally the arm injury in Austin. So after only two races we had already been through a very tough time, but I always felt the affection and support of Suzuki and the whole Team. We were able to turn the situation around through being patient, working hard, and being consistent, and finally this year we got the first podium together with my third place in Argentina. But no matter the results, whether good or bad, the mood in the box has always been positive. The project that the Team have set up for me is fantastic, I can fully trust the capabilities of the Company and the Team when it comes to development and improvement, and I’m sure we can continue to aim for big results. Now we only have to keep on working hard to see just how far we can go…”