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Island Insider: Rins gets a boost from return to ‘special place’

Thursday, 19 October 2023

Twelve months ago, Alex Rins completed the full suite of Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix wins by triumphing in a race for the ages. Given all that’s happened since, it’s little wonder he’s happy to be back.

As the only rider to have Australian Grand Prix wins in MotoGP™, Moto2™ and Moto3™ on his CV, there’s not much Alex Rins doesn’t like about Phillip Island – save for the 15 stairs he had to hobble up and down to complete his media duties on Thursday.

One race weekend back from a four-month layoff after badly breaking his right leg in the sprint race at Mugello, the 27-year-old Spaniard returned to the scene of last year’s emotional win in Suzuki’s antepenultimate race before withdrawing from the sport – and unsurprisingly, it was a time to reflect. With all that’s happened since, it’s little wonder.


“When you go into a place where you are good and where you enjoy things, when you land from the plane there is a smile on your face,” Rins beamed on Thursday.

“That happens to me when you arrive in Melbourne. It’s completely different and I feel super good here. The emotions are nice. This is a special place, because the track is really, really amazing.”

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Rins’ fairytale win – from 10th on the grid to head a top seven that flashed across the line within nine-tenths of a second of one another – sparked emotional scenes a year ago at the Island, with team members – not sure if they’d even have a job weeks later – bawling like babies. But for Rins, it was only one moment of a subsequent year full of them that sees him return to the Island in the colours of another team, with yet another new uniform on the way.

Since his victory here 12 months ago – which completed the box set with his 2015 Moto2™ and 2013 Moto3™ triumphs Down Under – Rins won Suzuki’s final race before departing at Valencia, signed with LCR Honda, won on his third start with his new team in Texas, broke his leg in Italy and had multiple surgeries, got married to Alexandra while confined to a wheelchair in July and signed a 2024 deal with Yamaha while he was recovering in August. He’s finished just four Grands Prix since last venturing to Australian shores.

Last weekend’s comeback in Indonesia was tough on Rins, and not just because of the scorching-hot temperatures that saw the track baking at close to 60 degrees for the 27-lap Lombok race. Rusty after more than 100 days without racing and still battling the pain barrier, Rins persevered in an attritional race where seven riders didn’t see the chequered flag to finish ninth, the final 10 laps an ordeal as his lack of match fitness and throbbing right leg took their toll.

“I was a bit scared because after the race I was feeling more pain, but I am demanding more than my muscle or my leg can support, so it’s normal,” Rins said.

“After the race, when I got back to the (pit) box, I was chatting with the team and then I couldn’t stand down from the bike.

“For me it was like a podium – we struggled a lot, many days in the hospital, so to achieve this was a really, really great result.”

Rins’ time with LCR Honda has been short and – at least for one weekend – sweet. His win at the Circuit of the Americas in April – like Phillip Island, another track where he’s won in all three classes – was notable for the complete command he displayed, and an outlier given the other five Honda riders who’ve raced in 2023 have taken one Grand Prix podium between them since.

Rins might have been seen as the perfect replacement for Marc Marquez at the Repsol Honda squad alongside old Suzuki teammate Joan Mir, but by the time Marquez dropped the bombshell that he was bailing out on Honda to head to Gresini Ducati, Rins had inked a deal to become Fabio Quartararo’s teammate in blue for 2024.

It's a move that puts Rins in line – along with Maverick Vinales and Jack Miller – to become the first rider to win premier-class races with three different manufacturers, but that’s a task for next year. Of more immediate importance – after he’d navigated those 15 stairs back down to the paddock – is finishing up his time with Honda on the right note, starting at a track where he’s regularly hit the high ones.