Alex Rins UNFIT after Friday at Japanese MotoGP

Alex Rins has been declared unfit for the Japanese Grand Prix after Friday MotoGP practice in Motegi, in which he completed only 20 laps

Alex Rins, 2023 MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix press conference. - Gold and Goose

Alex Rins has been declared unfit for the remainder of the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Rins competed in both sessions of the opening day of premier class action today (Friday 29 September), but completed only 20 laps in the 105 minutes of MotoGP practice. In Friday afternoon Practice, Rins was 3.747 seconds slower than the fastest lap by the carbon-framed KTM of session-topping Brad Binder.

After practice concluded, Rins was declared unfit for the remainder of the weekend in Japan “due to the pain he’s felt today on the right leg while testing on track,” a statement published on the LCR Honda team’s social media channels reads.

With Rins out of action for Saturday and Sunday in Motegi, Stefan Bradl - who is present in Motegi and who hit the back of Pol Espargaro turn one of the Sprint last weekend in India while replacing Rins at the Buddh International Circuit - will be drafted in to replace him, as was the case at the Dutch TT earlier this year. Rins, meanwhile will likely try to race again in two weeks time at the Indonesian Grand Prix in Mandalika.

Rins has been out of action in MotoGP since a crash in the Sprint at the Italian Grand Prix back in June. In that incident, Honda’s only race winner of 2023 suffered a broken right leg.

Since the San Marino Grand Prix, Honda has appeared to make some progress with its MotoGP bike. Marc Marquez finished seventh in Misano, having often struggled to break the top 10 in the races before that - and both Marquez and Joan Mir had podium pace last weekend in India. On that occasion, Marquez was able to secure third place in the Sprint; and Joan Mir finished fifth in the Grand Prix, and felt that he could have been on the podium were it not for the development of a vibration at the rear of the bike towards the end of the race. 

There was also optimism heading to HRC’s home race in Motegi this weekend, as part of the reason for Honda’s decent showing in India was judged to be the Buddh circuit’s lack of corners which invite acceleration on maximum lean angle. In Buddh, instead, most of the acceleration zones were straight-up-and-down, which allowed for Honda’s two MotoGP champions to ride relatively limited from the bike’s larged problem: rear grip on the edge of the tyre. 

With Motegi’s stop-start layout, it was tentatively hypothesised before the weekend that the same thing might be true at Honda’s home race, and both Mir and Marquez might be able to have strong performances. But, after Practice, Joan Mir was the top-placed Honda in 12th place, while Marquez crashed out late on in Practice, ending Friday in 14th.