Alex Rins says Suzuki team-mate Joan Mir’s European Grand Prix was simply “a step forward” relative to his own, though rued the error that cost him the lead.
Rins out-paced Mir during qualifying on Saturday afternoon with a run to the middle of the front row, while his championship-leading squad mate bagged fifth.
Rins held position on the start behind pole-man Pol Epsargaro, before snatching the lead away from the KTM with a tidy move at Turn 11 on the second tour.
He attempted to make his escape soon after, though Mir was also making good progress as he relieved Espargaro of second in an almost copycat move to Rins just two laps later.
Mir looked to have a slight edge on speed as he circulated behind his fellow GSX-RR rider for most of the contest, before moving into the lead courtesy of a small mistake by Rins-again at Turn 11-as he shifted down one too many gears to first rather than second on entry to the bend, causing him to run wide.
Rins said that while he was “very happy” to bag a third podium in as many races, his struggles with tyre wear due to an overly “spinning” rear tyre ultimately cost him the ultimate performance to take the fight back to Mir after relinquishing the leadership.
“I’m very happy to get another 20 points for the world standings, Joan (Mir) was really pushing in the last part of the race,” explained Rins.
“I made a small mistake at Turn 11, I was in the wrong gear and this cost me the first position, then when he overtook me I was able to keep the same distance to him but it was so difficult.
“Then lap by lap he was going away little by little, so in the end I’m happy for Mir and Suzuki, and hopefully we can improve for next week.
“I was struggling a bit with the rear tyre, it was spinning a bit too much, and I was trying all race to keep the tyre alive.
“When he (Mir) overtook me I was riding at the same lap-times as when I was leading, so this shows his pace was a step forward (compared to mine).”
Rins hailed the “incredible” year his Suzuki outfit is currently enjoying, the manufacturer leading the riders, teams and constructors standings with just two races remaining in 2020, though conceded Mir is “probably a bit far away” to think about a realistic title chance.
“It’s been an incredible season for Suzuki, missing the two races (at the start of the year) allowed Mir to open a big gap, so lets continue fighting and trying to finish in the top positions and lets see where we are,” added Rins.
“I’m 37 points behind him (Mir) so there are still chances, but he’s probably a bit far away, but we’ll try to do it.”
Rins late season charge-highlighted by the fact he has failed to finish lower than second across the previous three contests- has helped him climb to equal second in the standings with Petronas SRT Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, 37 points back from Mir.
The first few races of the campaign were blighted by a shoulder injury sustained during the season opening Spanish GP at Jerez, while his championship chances were dealt another blow after crashing just seconds after taking the lead of the Austrian GP.
He was unable to capture a rostrum result until the eighth round of the year in Barcelona, while a potential five-race podium run was curtailed after crashing from second in the French GP at Le Mans last month.