Before the extraordinary events in the Texan sunshine on Sunday I remembered the careers of Alex Rins and Lucio Cecchinello in separate ways. It was only when they came together for that historic win in Austin I realised they had so much in common. The ability to fight against the odds and adversity to come out at the top
Without a doubt my number one memory of Lucio was when his LCR Honda team provided Cal Crutchlow with a MotoGP™ winning machine to become the first British rider to win a Premier class Grand Prix for 35 years. I was at Anderstorp in Sweden to witness Barry Sheene bring Yamaha victory in 1981. I waited and waited for a repeat but in the end gave up hope it would happen in my lifetime until Brno in the Czech Republic in 2016. Cal went on to win again at Phillip Island the same year and in Argentina two years.
My undying memory of Alex was in Valencia last year. The final race of the season and the final race for the Suzuki Grand Prix team and what a send-off he gave them to bow out with victory and honour. Three years earlier he had brought them wins at COTA and Silverstone and a year later in Aragon. Last year after Suzuki announced their withdrawal at the end of the season he won at Phillip Island before that Valencia finale.
Lucio was a top 125cc Grand Prix rider. Riding for his own team he won seven Grands Prix. He finished fourth in the World Championship on two occasions and his last grand prix win came in 2003 with a very special victory at Mugello. He was a massive cog in the Grand Prix career of double World Champion Casey Stoner, first in the 250cc class where they finished second in the World Championship after five Grand Prix wins. He then stepped up with Stoner into MotoGP™ before the Australian joined Ducati and the rest is history.
Alex also came up through the smaller classes. What a fight for the 2014 Moto3™ World title with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and a year earlier with Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) and Luis Salom. Eight Grand Prix wins brought second and third places in the Championship. It was the same story in Moto2™ where four wins gave him second and third places in the Championship before joining MotoGP™ with Suzuki in 2017.
Lucio’s LCR team celebrated the 100th podium in the Grand Prix paddock with MotoGP™ victory on Sunday. Alex had already become the first rider to win Moto3™. Moto2™ and MotoGP™ races at COTA. He is also the first rider to win two MotoGP™ races at the Texan circuit. The other, a certain Marc Marquez, with those seven wins. Alex also joins Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi and Maverick Vinales as the only riders to win on two makes of Japanese machinery in the MotoGP™ era. Both are remarkable achievements for the Italian team owner and Spanish rider, and one manufacturer in particular should be so grateful.
It was Honda’s first MotoGP™ win since Marc Marquez brought them victory on the Repsol factory machine at that second Grand Prix at Misano back in October 2021. While bringing Honda some much needed success, Rins’s second MotoGP™ win at COTA was bad news for the Rossi family. In 2019 Alex pipped Valentino Rossi by less than half a second to claim victory. On Sunday he beat Valentino’s half-brother Luca Marini to the chequered flag. It was Marini’s first MotoGP™ podium finish.
That first Honda win for 593 days may have come from an unlikely source and Marini surely will win his first Grand Prix this season, but this was an afternoon to savour in Texas.