Rins joined the premier class after running out front in five seasons in Moto3 and Moto2, but struggled to make an immediate impact, not helped by Suzuki’s compromised 2017 bike and injuries.
The Spaniard gradually built up pace as he went along and, having received an engine upgrade at Assen, went on to finish the campaign with a run of seven consecutive top-six finishes.
Back-to-back runs to second place in Sepang and Valencia allowed Rins to end up fifth overall in the final riders’ standings.
“Next year I’m going to fight to the max,” said the 22-year-old, who signed a two-year extension with Suzuki earlier in 2018. “I have a lot of experience now.
“From Holland, when Suzuki brought a more powerful engine, I started to feel better.
“I think I’ve earned more respect from others. We have been taking small steps upwards. I didn’t expect to score so many podiums at all.”
Rins, who will start testing for next year in Valencia on Tuesday, says feedback from the test team suggests that Suzuki has made another step forward with the 2019 version of its engine.
“We did an incredible second part of the season,” Rins said. “We did a lot of information for Suzuki, and already in Japan Sylvain Guintoli, our test rider, he try different chassis, different engines with a bit more power.
“Last year we did a bad choice on the engine and we couldn’t fight for the podium.
“I don’t test yet but Guintoli is riding a lot with this new engine and he says it’s going very good, very fast on the top, sixth gear, so I’m very happy and very excited to start Tuesday.”
Rins will partner Joan Mir in 2019-20, the Moto2 recruit having replaced MotoGP race winner Andrea Iannone in the line-up.
Iannone, who is testing with his new Aprilia team in Valencia, finished five places behind Rins in the 2018 standings and scored two fewer podiums than his Spanish teammate.
Rins said he was happy to have come out on top against Iannone in 2018, but gave credit to his now-former teammate’s abilities.
“The first rider you want to beat is your teammate,” Rins said. “I’m very happy to have done that and to have scored more podiums than he did.
“I can’t complain about him. He has been an incredible rider.
“Maybe without Iannone I would’ve relaxed. I WISh him all the best at Aprilia.”
Andrea Iannone, Team Suzuki MotoGP, Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images