Feb 21, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>NEW SUZUKI FINISHES FIRST ROUND OF TESTS<BR><BR>Phillip Island, Australia, February 21st.<BR><BR>SUZUKI'S new four-stroke GP racer completed the first round of tests at the Australian GP Circuit today, with no hitches and steady progress. Now the Telefonica Movistar Suzuki team and riders are eagerly awaiting the next stage of development of the all new MotoGP machine.<BR><BR>Regular riders Kenny Roberts Jr and Sete Gibernau, along with factory tester Yukio Kagayama, battled high winds at the circuit, but still managed to bring the first part of the programme to a successful conclusion.<BR><BR>Now the team takes a short break while the factory race department incorporates important changes to the machine's settings and electronics. The next stage of the high intensity development takes place at the Catalunya GP circuit outside Barcelona early next month, where the new bike will be seen in public for the first time.<BR><BR>The machine, powered by an all new fuel-injected 60-degree V4 engine of 990cc, is one of the new generation of Grand Prix motorcycles built to new regulations, pitting four-stroke prototypes against the established 500cc two-stroke GP bikes. Although originally intended to race in 2003, Suzuki's first prototype showed so much progress that the programme was put forward by a full year to join the other MotoGP pioneers in the first season of the new class.<BR><BR>Over the past three weeks it has been tested at Sepang in Malaysia, and at Eastern Creek and Phillip Island in Australia. During that time factory engineers have been working flat out to take the bike from first prototype stage. The team has established a clear direction of development of both engine and chassis. Now the factory has a chance to make bigger changes to comply with its requirements.<BR><BR>"These tests were merely extended shake-down runs," said team manager Garry Taylor. "It's important that people understand that the bike is still at the very early stages of development, and as a result we are still making fairly fundamental changes rather than small refinements. This means there is a certain reaction time to our requests, none of us expected to leave Australia with the whole job done.<BR><BR>"We have been dogged by bad weather in Australia. The first day at Phillip Island was still, but we had a lot of problems with birds on the seaside circuit. The next two days were very windy, which meant we weren't able to complete as many laps as we would have liked.<BR><BR>"At the same time, we've learned a lot and made a lot of progress - and also proved that the new bike has tremendous potential. The team's mood is still very positive and importantly we are coming away with both riders fit and strong.<BR><BR>"We are realistic enough to know that the bike is still very new and includes a lot of engineering and electronics that are still at the prototype stage. There is a lot to be done before it is fully ready to race, and time is short. But everybody involved - from the riders and mechanics to the factory engineers - is deeply committed to achieve success as soon as possible, and we have taken the first step."<BR><BR>The bike's next outing will be in Spain, filming a TV commercial, for sponsors MoviStar, before joining the "open to all" IRTA test at Catalunya on the second week in March, where they will meet the rival four-strokes and two-strokes for the first time.<BR><BR><BR>Kenny Roberts: Unleashing the potential<BR><BR>"We're under no illusion, there is a lot to do before this bike is ready to race, we've started the work and the first stage is over. Now we wait for the factory to make the changes we've asked for, to take the bike to the next level. Everybody is working really hard and we need to keep up the pace to the start of the season and then for the rest of the year. The machine goes well and sounds fantastic. The potential is there, and we are working on achieving it."<BR><BR><BR>Sete Gibernau: Bad weather, good experiences<BR><BR>"Of course the weather was frustrating. It would have been so nice to run strings of laps in good conditions at Phillip Island, but that wasn't possible. We still managed to achieve quite a lot. There is such a positive feeling in the team, and the bike is obviously a big step forward. The engine is very strong and that is our big area of concentration. We need to get a throttle response right so we can use all of that power."