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Feb 7, 2003

Roberts And Hopkins Finish Four Days Of Testing In Australia

From a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:<BR><BR>WEEK OF FRUITFUL TESTS TAKE NEW SUZUKI ANOTHER STEP FORWARD<BR><BR>Phillip Island – February 7, 2003<BR><BR>Team Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr. and John Hopkins concluded a week of testing at Australia's Phillip Island GP circuit today, with their all-new GSV-R racer growing up fast – and easily going faster than the previous version.<BR><BR>These were the second tests for the 2003 machine, which made a surprise appearance in January at tests in Sepang in Malaysia. The huge improvements wrought by the Suzuki factory race department over the winter infused the whole team with enthusiasm at Sepang.<BR><BR>In Australia, the faster and friendlier new Suzuki showed its mettle again, confirming the promise of competitive potential at the fast and sweeping circuit.<BR><BR>The team tested for four days, starting on Monday and taking a break on Wednesday, finishing early on Friday when high winds spoiled the conditions, and the seaside circuit's notorious seagulls mustered in menacingly large numbers.<BR><BR>"We're still learning a lot about the machine – its good and bad habits," said Roberts, 2000 World Champion. "But right off we went faster than last year, and there's more to come."<BR><BR>Engineers in Japan will continue to refine the exciting new GSV-R, all changed from last year's ground-breaking first 990cc V4 MotoGP four-stroke, in the break before the next tests., at Jerez on February 21-23. There the new Suzuki will meet its MotoGP rivals for the first time.<BR><BR>The team has more tests scheduled in Spain and Japan, before the first race of the year at Suzuka in Japan on April 6.<BR><BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS: GETTING DIALLED IN - The tests went pretty well, with good weather right up until the last day, and we were able to get a lot done. There's not a lot to complain about – you can't put your finger on any big problems, and we were working mainly on setting stuff. The mechanics and engineers are still learning about the new machine's good and bad habits, and how to set it from there. Until we test with the other guys, we won't really know where we're at. The bike is definitely faster than last year's, but maybe not enough yet. We're definitely on the right track to be competitive.<BR><BR><BR>JOHN HOPKINS: SLOW START, STRONG FINISH - I had a slow start with some niggling problems on the first days, but I got a lot of stuff done on the last two … not so much in terms of lap time, but useful information. We'd put that together, and my best times were on the last day, with the improvements we found. We're taking small steps, but we're getting there. The bike's a lot easier to ride than last year's … much more rider-friendly, and we're working on making the changes of direction better still. I'm looking forward to sizing up the opposition at Jerez, and to getting the best from the new bike before the start of the season.<BR><BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR: TEAM MANAGER - We had some really valuable days of testing, until the wind and the birds misbehaved on the last day. As we saw in Malaysia, the new bike is a tribute to the factory's hard work. That was the really big step forward. Now we're getting onto the niggling little things – refining the details, and establishing base settings. It keeps getting better. Kenny easily went faster than last year, and was really positive about the progress. John is showing his potential, and settling in well. Team morale is at an all-time high: everybody is smiling and pulling together. We're fully committed to a really big effort.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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