Team Suzuki Press Office – March 17.

The whole of Team Suzuki Ecstar – riders included – decided to stay in Qatar in between the end of the tests and the first races of the 2021 season, a difficult choice that was taken for the purposes of safe-guarding and being responsible.

The 2021 season is now officially underway, but it has started - as last year - with restrictions and calendar modifications. The Covid-19 pandemic has already seen the cancellation of the Argentina and Texas Grand Prix, and the Malaysia test that traditionally kicks off the season.

Instead, the pre-season test days - six in total - were scheduled in Qatar. After this the teams had nine days off before the first race, also in Doha, but the Suzuki team have decided not to go back home and to stay in Qatar, in order to minimise the risk of contagion for themselves or others.

This is a great sacrifice for the team members, who will stay away from their homes and families for five weeks in a row.

“I asked the whole team to consider staying in Qatar between the test days and the races, to avoid any risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus while travelling and staying at home with friends and families” says Shinichi Sahara, Project Leader and Team Director. “They all accepted, including the riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins, and this makes me very proud of the group that we are.”

The team will remain for five long weeks far from their families, and despite many activities that have been organised, it will not be an easy feat.

“When I was told that we are the only team to stay in Qatar, including the riders, I thought: ‘wow, I should be proud of my people’ and maybe we are proving once again that we are the most united team, since we face this difficult situation all together, as a strong group and family.”

Both the Suzuki riders have decided to continue their training and spending time with the other team members. It’s been a choice motivated by responsibility for World Champion Joan Mir: “I decided to remain in Qatar as an act of responsibility, in regard to the risk of infection while travelling, for both ourselves and others. I want to protect myself and my loved ones, but also my team who is making efforts to start the season in the best way. I would not feel at ease being at home with my friends and family knowing that my crew and the whole team is in Qatar with limitations and sacrifice. And besides, we are lucky because we are staying in a very nice hotel and being treated very well.”

Alex Rins is on the same page as his team-mate: “Finally we decided to stay here because this way we can create a full bubble where the Suzuki Team are all together, with no exceptions. First of all, this means that we’re safer, and we can also be calmer thinking about the upcoming races.”
The team will also enjoy some alternative activities such as karting, cycling, and track days on minibikes, coupled with more structured training:

“We are using this time for some team building activities, which is something we enjoy that we try to do once or twice a year, and now we have the perfect chance. Staying away from home is an effort for all of us, so we are trying to enjoy the time as best we can. We are not allowed to exit our hotel or visit the common spaces of the hotel since we are in the MotoGP bubble, so my routine is pretty based on the facilities that we have at our disposal: food in the restaurant, gym in the hotel, and some training with minibikes at the circuit.”

The Qatar ‘bubble system’ states that the team is not allowed to exit the hotel for anything except going to the circuit. Dining and activities must be done in special designated areas of the hotel where the public does not have access, so that team members are at the lowest risk of contracting the virus.

As a counterpart to this isolation, Dorna and the Qatar government have made a huge effort to provide the Pfizer vaccine to the team and paddock members. The first shots have already been administered to those who have requested them, and the second dose will be given before Race 2 in Losail.

Added Sahara: “Dorna and the Qatar government have done an incredible job, it’s something very impressive and much appreciated. It’s also important to save our lives and show that there is hope for a brighter future.”

For more stories about Alex Rins, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

For more stories about Joan Mir, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

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