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Oct 16, 2002

Suzuki Previews Phillip Island

From a press release issued by Suzuki:<BR><BR>NO SEASIDE JAUNT FOR SUZUKI TEAMSTERS <BR><BR>MotoGP, Round 15, Australian GP, Phillip Island, Victoria – October 20, 2002: <BR><BR>TEAM Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau go to Australia for the penultimate GP of the 2002 season with serious intent. Phillip Island's clifftop location overlooking the Bass Strait may make it one of the most picturesque circuits of the year, but the scenery will just be something that flashes past at high speed. <BR><BR>At the front of the riders' minds will be two other matters. The first, obviously, is to get the best possible result at a fast and rhythmic circuit that irons out machine differences and rewards smooth and creative riding skills – and where Kenny Roberts still holds the lap record. <BR><BR>The second is to continue the fruitful task of gathering data and experimenting with different technical solutions as the 990cc four-stroke prototype Suzuki GSV-R nears the end of its first race-development year. <BR><BR>Results have been improving significantly after the mid-point of the season, but the focus is less on this year than next. Senior factory race-department engineering staff, including the engine's designer Kunio Arase, have been at the last two races at Motegi in Japan and Sepang in Malaysia, having face-to-face meetings with team engineers and riders as they finalise plans for next year's Mk2 version, incorporating the fruits of the first year of public development of the all-new concept. <BR><BR>That doesn't rule out another set of good top-10 or better results at the Australian circuit. The sweeping layout, with high-speed corners running one into the next, a minimum of hard braking, and a downhill straight approached from a set of fast corners, is a favourite with riders as well as fans – and the Suzuki pair are no exception. <BR><BR>The nature of the classic circuit, on an island south of Melbourne, often leads to very close racing, and last year's last-ever 500cc two-stroke event was a vintage, with nine riders passing the chequered flag within little more than two seconds after jousting for almost the full distance. Gibernau was the last man in the group, after catching up from a poor start. Roberts also finished in the points, but out of touch after getting boxed in at the start, preventing him from repeating his runaway performance the year before. <BR><BR>This year, the Suzuki – youngest of the new-generation Japanese factory four-strokes – promises that the riders will again be able to run with the pack. The design is still undergoing development, against machines with a full 12 months or more of testing. <BR><BR>The smooth rhythm of Phillip Island might tip the balance in favour of Suzuki. <BR><BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS – A TRACK WHERE YOU CAN FLY <BR>"Phillip Island is one of those tracks where if the bike is working well you can really fly, but little problems can cost you a lot of time. We'll hope to avoid them, and our approach will be the same as at all these last races – to go there looking to improve the bike and give the engineers as much feedback as we can towards next year's machine. We're not just racing for this GP, but also for next year. It's hard to say if the track will favour us or not." <BR><BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU – BE REALISTIC, BUT BE HOPEFUL TOO <BR>"We have to be realistic, the race could be hard. But I had a very good race there last year on the Suzuki, finishing less than three seconds behind the winner. I like the place, and I'm confident I'm capable of good results. This is a development year, and that is our real focus." <BR><BR><BR>KUNIO ARASE – ENGINE DESIGNER <BR>"I have attended the last two GPs, and now I go back to Japan to continue working on next year's machine. We've learned a lot from working with the riders and the team pit crews, and watching the other bikes, and I already have some good ideas. In fact, we've already started drawings for things that will improve the engine braking performance. We have some quite different solutions, but they are still secret for the present. We are confident of a big difference next year." <BR><BR><BR><BR>RACE DATA <BR>Phillip Island <BR>Circuit Length: 2.764 miles / 4.448m. <BR><BR>Lap Record: 1:32.743 –107.282 mph / 172.654 km/h. <BR>KENNY ROBERTS (Telefónica MoviStar SUZUKI,1999) <BR><BR>2001 Race Winner: Valentino Rossi (Honda) <BR><BR>2001 Race Distance: 27 laps, 74.624 miles / 120.096 km <BR><BR>2001 Race Average: 42:22.383 – 105.667 mph / 170.055 km/h <BR><BR>2001 Fastest Race Lap: 1:32.993 – 106.996mph / 172.194, Max Biaggi (Yamaha) <BR><BR>2001 Pole Position: M Biaggi, 1:31.984 <BR><BR>2001 S Gibernau: Ninth, qualified fourth (Telefónica MoviStar SUZUKI) <BR><BR>2001 Kenny Roberts: 15th, qualified 12th (Telefónica MoviStar SUZUKI) <BR>