Valentino Rossi says Suzuki now 'stronger' in MotoGP than Yamaha
|By Jamie Klein||Monday, October 22nd 2018, 10:22 GMT|
Valentino Rossi believes Suzuki's MotoGP operation is now stronger than Yamaha, after finishing behind Alex Rins in last weekend's race in Japan.
Rossi repeated his Thailand result by finishing fourth at Motegi on Sunday, but was gifted two positions when Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone both crashed in separate incidents.
The 39-year-old finished the race seconds adrift of newly-crowned champion Marc Marquez, and nearly five behind third-placed Rins.
After Yamaha enjoyed its best weekend for months in Thailand a fortnight ago, with Maverick Vinales beating team-mate Rossi to third, Rossi said his Motegi result was more indicative of the M1 bike's current level.
"I think we worked well, we made another step [in warm-up] and I feel better on the bike and started quite optimistic to fight for the podium," said Rossi.
"Unfortunately the two Suzukis and also [Cal] Crutchlow were faster than me.
"I tried to not give up and not make any mistakes, to arrive at the end with good pace
"But our potential is this. It's more this than Thailand, unfortunately."
Asked to compare the Yamaha to the Suzuki, Rossi said: "Suzuki did a very good step compared to last year, because they worked in the right way. Better than us.
"They are strong. If Iannone didn't crash, he would have finished in front.
"They are fighting for the podium, they are stronger."
Rins picked up his third podium finish of the season in Japan, overtaking team-mate Iannone in the points, and only just missed out on second to LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow.
The 22-year-old fought with Rossi early in the race, but said he realised the Suzuki's acceleration was better and simply waited for the Italian's tyres to fade to pass.
"I think our race pace was better than his [Rossi's], I think he destroyed the tyres and I waited until his tyres went down," said Rins.
"When I saw on the exit of the corners he was suffering a bit, I was picking up the bike faster. He braked really fast, I overtook him for the traction."
Rins added he was pleased with the rate of development Suzuki has maintained this season.
As well as trying a new fairing at Motegi, the manufacturer also brought a 2019-spec machine for test rider Sylvain Guintoli to race.
"They have worked really hard since the beginning of the season," said Rins.
"In Assen we changed the engine, using one with a little bit more power at high speed.
"Since then they have always brought new things. Here we raced with a different fairing with new winglets.
"They want to win, so I'm very happy to be part of that and trying to go faster."