'Incredible' debut victory for Rins

'I tried to stay calm on the last lap. I knew that Valentino has a lot of experience in this situation!' - Alex Rins, Austin MotoGP.
'Incredible' debut victory for Rins

Alex Rins became MotoGP's newest winner courtesy of a tense victory over Valentino Rossi in Austin, Texas.

The Spaniard claimed Suzuki's first win since Maverick Vinales in 2016 by passing Rossi with four laps to go, then holding his nerve for a narrow 0.462s victory after a last lap charge by the Italian.

"It's unbelievable," Rins smiled. "I got my very first win here in Moto3 in 2013. The feeling is incredible."

"I tried to stay calm on the last lap. I knew that Valentino has a lot of experience in this situation! I’m super happy. Suzuki deserves this victory. Together we deserve it, now we need to continue in this way."

Rins held fourth place during the early stages of the grand prix, which became third when Cal Crutchlow fell just ahead of him, then second to Rossi when Marc Marquez slid out of a commanding lead on lap 9 of 20.

"During the weekend sincerely my feeling was not the best one. We suffered a little bit for braking with the bike on a small angle. But anyway, when we start the race I try to forget everything. I try to ride. I recovered a lot of positions in the first lap, so this is important.

"When I was behind Valentino I was at 1.5 seconds, more or less. I was saying, 'Come on, Alex. You need to arrive. You need to do a bit of a spectacle…'

"Finally was like this. I arrived to Valentino. I was studying him. In the end when he did a small mistake I overtook him. I did the last four laps in first position to the end.

"But I did a small mistake on brakes on T11. I go a little bit away. I was thinking, 'now Valentino will overtake you on the straight and ciao'. But he also went a little bit wide."

Runner-up three times last year, Rins was hit by poor qualifying in the opening rounds of this season, but fought through on race day for 4-5 finishes prior to seventh on grid in Austin.

As such, few - least of all Rins and his team - were surprised that the #42 had made the climb onto the top step of the rostrum.

"For sure, since the middle of the 2018 season we did a big step," Rins said. "I was excited to win. I was very close in Valencia last year. I was so close in Qatar. I was sincerely thinking on the victory. Me and all my team, we were thinking about this. Finally,we arrive.

"We need to continue in this same way. For sure we need to improve the qualifying to start in a better position, but we need to continue the same work as we are doing now."

Rins - starting his third season of MotoGP, all with Suzuki - is now up third in the world championship, two points from Rossi and five from new leader Andrea Dovizioso.

And with straight-line speed the only obvious weakness for the GSX-RR, Rins expects to be competitive at many more tracks.

"For sure we have a balanced bike," Rins said of the GSX-RR. "During last year we did a really good job with Suzuki staff to improve the bike. I think our setup is very nice and I think we can fight in mostly all the tracks.

"For sure with big straights like in Qatar we will suffer a little bit, but I felt strong. All the team are giving me good vibrations, so this is nice."