The intensity of the battle between Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso at the Grand Prix of MotorLand two weeks ago in Spain was reflected in the post-race press conference. Nearly all media questions were directed at the leading duo, while third-place Andrea Iannone sat quietly at the far end of the table, largely ignored.

When he did have an opportunity to speak, Iannone explained how Suzuki's systematic approach in practice on Friday and Saturday had paid off in the 23-lap race on Sunday. "Ducati and Honda have really good dry grip and really good acceleration," he said. "They are also strong in braking. We worked a lot with the electronic side and also me with the throttle.

“We decided to use the soft [rear] tire because during this weekend it was a little better for us in the dry. When we pick up the bike with the hard tire, we lose something; we have more spin. We improved on the acceleration point with the soft, and I worked more or less all weekend with this tire. For the distance, I always started with a used tire.”

Three laps into the race, Iannone was passed by his teammate, Álex Rins. “From the beginning,” Iannone said, “Marc and Dovi had a great pace, but I didn’t need to push 100 percent to remain really close. I think this was a really good strategy. When Álex overtook me, the situation changed. He pushed, and I lost a little bit from Dovi, Marc, and Álex.

Andrea Dovizioso
Was Andrea Dovizioso (04) surprised when Andrea Iannone made it a three-way battle at MotorLand Aragón? “I knew from practice that Andrea had really good pace, but you never know what to expect,” the factory Ducati rider said. “When I saw the gap from me to Iannone was 1.8 seconds and then two laps later he was with us I thought he had better speed than us.”Courtesy of Ducati

“I fought with my tires, especially the rear. It was important to manage the tire situation for all of the race. The last five or six laps I started to recover the gap a little bit. It was a good battle. The Honda and Ducati are really fast on the straight—much faster than us. I think this is the negative point for today’s race.”

Iannone understands the size of the mountain that Suzuki is attempting to climb. “I live in reality,” he said. “For sure, we work well during this weekend. But, in this moment, the Honda and Ducati have better performance than us. When we pick up the bike, we struggle a lot. We have spinning and sliding, and in this area it is really difficult.

“When you do not accelerate well, it’s difficult to recover on the braking point. I also think now in MotoGP top speed is important. Honda and Ducati have a really good top speed. So when I say on the straight I lose a lot it is difficult because I fight with the two best riders in the world, Marc and Dovi.”

What are the Suzuki’s strengths? “We have a really good chassis,” Iannone said. “In [cornering] angle, our bike is unbelievable. We have really good grip, front and rear. In the fast corners and the large corners, we recover a lot, especially on entry. We enter with really high speed compared to other manufacturers. It is a positive point at some tracks.

“At other tracks, it is a negative point. When we have a really high corner speed, we use the edge of the tire a lot. The bike slides really fast, and it is difficult to pick up and accelerate. [Öhlins technician Jon Cornwell has long referred to edge grip as a ‘wasting asset.’] Phillip Island is always a really good track for us, but we will see.”

MotorLand Aragón
MotorLand Aragón was Iannone’s first podium since his back-to-back third-place finishes at Circuit of The Americas and Circuit of Jerez, the third and fourth races of the season. Like his old Moto2 rival Marc Márquez, Iannone chose the softest of the three available Michelin rear slicks in Spain. Dovizioso opted for the hard rear.Courtesy of Suzuki

Suzuki Team Manager Davide Brivio hopes to keep the momentum rolling this weekend in Thailand. About MotorLand Aragón, he said, “The important thing, apart from the podium, was that we could fight at the front with both riders finishing in good positions. We could keep the pace [of Márquez and Dovizioso] until the end. That is a great achievement for us.

“We are excited for the rest of the season because we are visiting some circuits that really suit the Suzuki well, especially Phillip Island [Australia]. Also, Motegi [Japan] last year was not so bad for us, even if we had to deal with the rain. There is Sepang [Malaysia] as well, where we used to have good performance.

Andrea Iannone
Five races to go, more work to do: “I will finish my relationship with Suzuki at the end of the year,” Iannone said, “but I will continue to work at 100 percent to close the season at the best.” The former Ducati MotoGP race winner is moving to the Aprilia factory next season to team with Aleix Espargaró.Courtesy of Suzuki

“The first one this weekend in Thailand is a question mark for everybody because it is going to be the first race for MotoGP in Buriram at Chang International Circuit. During the winter, we had a very good test there, especially with Álex, so we will try to reconfirm our good feelings on that track.” World Superbike has visited the Thai track four times.

The target, Brivio said, remains the same: “Take advantage of any possibilities that might come to get on the podium. We did it in Misano [Italy] when Álex finished fourth and then again in Aragón with our riders finishing third and fourth. Next season, we will compete under the same regulations as everybody else, with seven engines and limited testing time.”

Practice for the Thai GP begins on Friday morning.