Marc Marquez believes Suzuki is now ready to mount a MotoGP title challenge, as Alex Rins continued the manufacturer’s impressive form with the fastest time in Friday practice in Malaysia.
Suzuki has improved considerably this season after a difficult 2017 campaign, and Marquez claimed it could win races as early as the Qatar opener, which was followed by three podium finishes by the team.
While Suzuki has yet to win this year and went through a mid-season slump, it is enjoying a competitive end to the season and has scored three podiums in the last four races – which included a second for Andrea Iannone at Phillip Island last weekend.
Rins beat Marquez to top spot in FP2 at Sepang, beating the world champion’s best lap by 0.093 seconds.
“It was not a surprise [to see Rins first] – Suzuki is working good, I think the bike is ready to fight for the championship,” said Marquez.
“In the races they have ridden in a very good way since Aragon [in September] so the bike is competitive. They have very good turning in the middle of the corner.
“Maybe the weak point of Suzuki is the top speed, but when you are behind them, the turning is so good.
“Also the grip on the exit of the corners [is impressive]. The top speed is not the best, but the acceleration is really good.”
Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales added it is now “normal” to see the Suzukis at the sharp end.
“He is good, it didn’t surprise me,” said Vinales, who was fourth-fastest in FP2, of Rins’ pace.
“The Suzuki was in great shape in Phillip Island, Japan, Aragon so it is normal.
“Both riders are great, so it is normal the Suzukis are there at the top.
“I remember ’16 [when he rode for Suzuki], in FP3 I was first.
“The bike works really good here, so not only are Marc and [Andrea] Dovizioso going to go fast in the race, Alex is also going to be there.”