MotoGP rider Alex Rins takes to the ice with Alpine F1 stars

LCR Honda MotoGP rider Alex Rins took some time last week to get acquainted with driving on ice alongside a couple of F1 stars and a WRC legend.

Alex Rins, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Oliver & Petter Solberg in Lapland.

LCR Honda rider Alex Rins has taken a slightly alternative approach to preparing for the first MotoGP test of the season by driving on ice with Petter and Oliver Solberg along with two F1 drivers.

The Sepang Shakedown test got underway yesterday (Sunday 5 February) and the first official 2023 MotoGP test will begin later this week. 

Certainly, the climate of Lapland is not especially comparable with that of Sepang, but it is where Rins chose to go last week for a spot of ice driving in a (heavily) modified Citroen DS3.

Rins was in Lapland alongside Alpine F1 drivers, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, as part of a promotional event for Castrol, who sponsor both the LCR Honda MotoGP team and the Alpine F1 team.

Teaching the Grand Prix racing trio the tricks of driving on ice were Oliver and Petter Solberg, fresh from winning the Nations Cup for Norway at the Race of Champions.

Petter Solberg won the 2003 World Rally Championship, the fame of which increased retrospectively for two reasons. Firstly, it became the final World Championship won by a Subaru driver, and secondly it became the only time Sebastien Loeb was beaten over a full season of the World Rally Championship. 11 years later, Solberg on the World Rallycross Championship for the first time and, in doing so, became the first person to win FIA World Championship titles in two different motorsport disciplines, before defending the title in 2015.

After Solberg’s 2003 WRC success, Loeb went on to win the next nine drivers’ titles with Citroen, before his fellow Frenchman Sebastien Ogier began his own period of dominance with Volkswagen in 2013.

Ogier (himself and eight-time WRC champion by now) was only able to surpass Loeb’s record of eight Rallye Monte Carlo victories (the latest scored last year by Loeb in a battle with Ogier, who suffered a puncture while leading on the final day) earlier this year at the 2023 running of the event. On the same event, Oliver Solberg completed his first rally of 2023 in the new Skoda Fabia Rally2. 

Solberg had contested the WRC class with Hyundai in 2022, but was dropped for poor performance (how much of that was actually Solberg’s fault is up for debate) and is now in the second tier of the WRC, WRC2. Solberg had good speed in Monte Carlo but hit, essentially, a cliff-face on Saturday which curtailed his chances of finishing as top Rally2 car. There were no championship implications, though, for Solberg, who was in Monte only for experience and had not nominated the rally as a points-scoring round. His WRC2 season will begin this weekend in Sweden. 

As for Rins, his expressions seem to suggest that it was an enjoyable day for him in the Citroen DS3 with some of the most talented drivers in the world, although it has to be assumed that the contrast with Sepang will make the Malaysian test something of a shock to the system. 

Before heading out to Malaysia to make contact with the Honda RC213V for the first time this calendar year, Rins is riding a Honda CBR1000RR-R track-prepared road bike today (6 February 2023). Ordinarily, this would not be of any particular note, but the bike Rins is riding is quite clearly making use of additional front wings, probably in order to better simulate the aerodynamic roads induced by MotoGP wings. They could also provide some interesting data for Honda, although it seems (highly) unlikely that Honda would allow photos to be taken and published of something they were genuinely planning on bringing to the production bike in 2024, for example.

Lead image credit: Oliver Solberg (Twitter).

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