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Nov 28, 2008

Alstare Suzuki Finishes Three-day World Superbike Test At Phillip Island


November 26-28, 2008

Team Suzuki Alstare have begun their preparations for the 2009 season with a three day test in Phillip Island Australia. Over three days, held in mostly good conditions, riders Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner started to work with the all-new 2009 GSX-R1000 Suzuki at the demanding Australian circuit and understand the new bike. At the end of the three days, Yukio and Max had completed over 420 laps and had given a lot of valuable feedback to the team. Yukio managed to lap faster than his time earlier this year and Max was also on the pace.

Before the test, a team of Alstare's mechanics had spent the best part of two weeks in Japan building the bikes, before they were shipped to Phillip Island for the three day test. The bikes will now be sent to Kyalami circuit, South Africa, for the first official test for the 2009 season on 10-12 December.

As the bike is new, there is much work to do - as you can imagine. I managed to do a short shakedown test in Japan before the bikes were sent to Phillip Island, so these tests were my second time on the bike. My first impression of the new bike is that it handles better than last year's bike, but we shall have to see if that is still the case once we develop it further. Of course, we tested many things these past three days and have done a lot of work with the chassis, suspension and different links. We tried different geometries and different swing-arm lengths - all the normal stuff. I started off trying to find the right balance of the bike for me to be comfortable and make it easy to ride and because of this we didn't use any of the electronics. We tried some different brakes on the second day and some long runs on day three to find out how the new bike affects the tyres and their consistency. All in all, I am happy because the tests went well, I had no crash and was faster than before here. Now we need to work on the rest of the bike and the electronics and be ready for the start of next season.

I think that this bike handles better than my bike of last year and its chassis feels good. We did a lot of work, starting with the chassis, suspension, different swing-arms and links and generally I tried to get to know the bike and how it works. On the second day I had a crash on the fast left-hander before Lukey Heights. The front tyre had done 10 laps and the rear was new and I just lost the front end, but luckily all I did to myself was bruise my right elbow.

On day three we did some long runs to try and find a good set-up to conserve tyre life, but we didn't really do any work on the electronics because we wanted to understand what the bike was doing first. Each day, I got more confident in the bike and more comfortable. I am sure I would've gone faster at the end, were it not for a swing-arm that was a bit too long. But, I'm happy generally and looking forward to the next time on the bike and improving it for the start of the season.