Suzuki's Davide Brivio On Jerez Testing, Improving Qualifying, And Alex Rins As A Title Contender

It has been a good season so far for Suzuki, the Suzuki Ecstar team, and especially Alex Rins. The Suzuki rider won the race in Austin, finished a comfortable second at Jerez, and has not finished outside the top five all season. Rins sits in second place in the championship, a single point behind leader Marc Márquez.

The Suzuki GSX-RR is a much-improved bike over the winter. After the massive steps made in the second half of the 2018 season, a series of refinements during testing have turned the bike into a bona fide championship contender, and a machine to be feared by its rivals. At Jerez, where Andrea Dovizioso got a close up look at the bike of Rins, the factory Ducati rider was full of praise for the Suzuki.

"I think the Suzuki is better than all the bikes in turning," Dovizioso said. "Rins, when he overtook me, his speed in the middle of the corner was amazing. It’s impossible for me to understand but maybe in the hard braking they are not so strong. It didn’t look like it, but maybe they have some limits. When a big talent rides the bike it’s always difficult to see a bad point of the bike. But for sure in the middle of the corner they are so fast."

Testing spoilers

At the Monday test in Jerez, Suzuki brought a few more updates to test, most notably a new swing arm and their own version of the swing arm spoiler. The swing arm was rated a success, but the spoiler did not fare so well. Alex Rins ran into the gravel with the spoiler and damaged it beyond repair.

After the test, we spoke to Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio about the test, about the competitiveness of the GSX-RR, and about Alex Rins and his chances of winning the 2019 title. "At the end of the day, it's always useful to do this test, especially after four races, because you can start to guess at the problems you are having and the area where you can improve," Brivio said.

"We went through different things today, like for Alex, also a different swing arm to see how it is. Some electronic parts. And then we had that famous aerodynamic device," Brivio said, referring to the swing arm spoiler. With the spoiler broken, the only thing which they could say about it was that it was less stable when it was broken, Rins had joked earlier.

Fine tuning

It was mostly just testing details, however. "Small things, like some settings, a clutch setting. You have a lot of time to go through things which are difficult to check during the race weekend. So it's good. Now, of course the main job is to keep working, keep analyzing data, and let's see next race. The target is to keep our package competitive, and try to improve small areas. We're not looking for big changes or a big revolution."

Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli was also at Jerez on Monday, turning laps on the GSX-RR. But the Frenchman's work was starting to turn towards Barcelona, where he will make a wildcard appearance for Suzuki, Brivio explained. "He is progressing a little bit, some electronics, some stuff. But also for Sylvain, his race is coming close. He will race in Barcelona as a wildcard, and we will have another test in Brno before then. So we will go to Brno, have a test, and then come to Barcelona for the race. So he's also now getting prepared for that, and for sure he wants to try to do a good race."

One fast lap

Though the Suzuki has clearly made major steps forward, the one place where it has struggled is during qualifying. Both Alex Rins and Joan Mir have said they have trouble trying to push out a fast lap, though neither understands where the problem is. That presents a problem for Suzuki as well, Brivio explained. "We don't have a clear idea what it can be," he said. "There is no one reason where you can say, OK, we have this problem, and we have to improve this problem. For instance, Saturday when it was qualifying, with the two tires Alex went out with, he was not 100% confident with the front end."

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We have come. A few years ago it was unthinkable that anyone else would win a race aside from Honda or Yamaha. Now we have 4 capable manufacturers on the grid and many riders who could take a win if it's their day. 

Roll on le mans 

Nice interview.

"Nobody is injured" what does Jorge think of that statement?

"The first exam ...will be June. Mugello, Barcelona, Assen" I will be watching those exams live at the circuits. Should be awesome.

You lucky devil! Hope the weather is good, Assen is grim on a bad day.

Thanks swiftnick I am a lucky person. Lucky to survive my many crashes. Lucky to find MotoMatters in a sea of...

Still getting all the details together, hearing worrying stories re; the thieves in Roma. The harder I work the luckier I get.

I also hope the weather is good. I will be able to get out of the weather at Assen & Catalunya. Nothing fancy at Mugello.

I’m not sure Jorge is seen as a contender, this year at least.

It feels like we are definitely seeing a changing of the guard at the moment and I suspect within another year or two we’ll have lost some big name stalwarts from the last few years. I think Vale will be one and maybe Jorge another, in each case not necessarily of their own volition. Time was, Vale would have still beaten Rins, slower bike or not. And I wonder whether Jorge’s move to Honda could prove to be his Rossi error (a la Ducati). It sometimes feels like I’ve been watching the same group at the front for decades - I know that’s not quite the case but there seems to have been very little churn at the top over the last 10 years. There are a lot of young guns banging on the door for top rides now and, personally, I think it’ll take one of these, rather than the old guard, to depose Márquez. As is almost always the case - we climb on our grandfathers shoulders.

I agree re a title contender and Lorenzo.

Jorge is going to challenge for race wins and will get one in a straight fight. I literally bet on him to get a Duc win by a certain fairly early round and it was a longer shot. He still has something to offer. I enjoy having him around - he impresses, is quite interesting, a different formula, and I like to dislike him personally.

The Marquez - HRC Honda - championship electronics combo is one that will be incredibly hard to topple for a title. Honda made it through their dark years, and so did Marc (for 2 seasons that bike was trying to do him in, and he kept rolling dice). Anything is possible?

Marquez will not ever EVER be changing bikes. He will retire from the HRC team. Their bike will not be out of the top 3 bikes on the grid during his tenure. It is a tall order to beat them indeed. Yet Marc is human. The championship electronics and spec tire have brought the Alien down to join the Astronaut.

As much as I love and respect Dovisioso, there is a better rider coming who's arrival on a Ducati will herald a challenger. It is in the cards. Don't overlook Bagnaia. We just got to Europe.

The Yamaha has turned the corner in their 2 year sewer tunnel. They can see the light, smell the day, and shall return. They have several exceptional riders on tap. They (FINALLY) revolutionalized the structure of their project. It may be arriving that they have a challenger for as early as next season. And Rossi moving into partnership running a team with Yamaha will be a big boost for the project. Lots of resources. Either by merger w Petronas, the Factory team, or even the European test team and a single bike...whatever - SKY46 MotoGP is coming. And the Italian kids are ALL gathered. The future looks bright.

I totally agree that Suzuki is the story of the season. That little bit more? You can hear it coming. Q improves. A TITLE SPONSOR ARRIVES (what the fook, folks?! At least TRY. Piece it together LCR style. Make a synergistic merger Petronas/SIC style. YOU DON'T EVEN USE ECSTAR OIL IN YOUR MOTOR, DO YOU? Dorna will help you with the handshakes, grid slots and Jr Team. Start w Samsung types (no, not Mitsubishi!). It is amazing what you have done w so little, and the title sponsor for 2020 is ripe.

Just a BIT more motor, a step half way between here and where Honda is, with Rins. 2020 title contender. Davide is a good guy that deserves this. So do we! So so good to have 4 bikes that can win a race.

Such a small factory with such small backing by their own company and yet, here they are. I hadn't seen signs of true alien in Rins as he came up; Maverick looked a better bet to me. Now, Rins is impressing me no end. It is awe inspiring to watch him brake a meter earlier and pass through the corner as he did to Dovi. I'm biased - been on Suzukis since 1984 - but I think they are the story of the season. 42ins FTW(s)!

What if Viñales had stayed in Suzuki.... would he be in a similar/better position than where Rins is now? Handful of wins a season? Challenging Marc/Dovi for the title?

Oh well...

Apical is taking me off-topic with this, but not sure where else I could ask. I’m doing a trip to Mugello this year - driving down (another wish list thing) and staying in Florence, booked on a tour because it was both easy and Mugello sounds wonderfully chaotic. I aim to be at the circuit for the three days Fri-Sun and wondered if anyone here could suggest some must-do’s. I remember David started some circuit guides a while back, but couldn’t find anything.....

I have booked for the VR46 Poggio Secco grandstand but would like to walk the circuit on Fri/Sat before I settle back for what I hope will be some good dry racing. A repeat of last year’s Italian podium-fest would be good, but I’m hoping for a memorable (good!) Rossi result. Any suggestions welcome.

Hi motomann I'm a bad influence ain't I.

I'm planning to have a wander around on the Friday.

Perhaps we should continue over on the forum.