Apr 7, 2002
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From a Suzuki press release:<BR><BR>Team Suzuki News Service<BR><BR>GSV-R ON PODIUM AT FIRST RACE<BR><BR>MotoGP, Race Result, Round 1, Suzuka, April 7th.<BR><BR>TEAM TELEFONICA MOVISTAR SUZUKI wild-card rider Akira Ryo put the all-new 990cc V-4 GSV-R four-stroke on the podium at its first race at Suzuka today.<BR><BR>The reigning Japanese Superbike Champion led from the start for most of the rain-hit race. It was only in the dying laps that reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi on a Honda was able to pass and hold him off for the victory.<BR><BR>Ryo and Rossi traded fastest laps as they battled for the top spot on the rostrom. But Rossi just edged it on the last lap, leaving Ryo delighted to finish runner-up on the GSV-R.<BR><BR>Ryo's team-mates, regular riders Kenny Roberts Jr and Sete Gibernau were unlucky to fall off in the slippery conditions. Roberts fell early while battling for a top-10 place, while Gibernau was battling for the lead with Rossi and Ryo when he fell midway through the race.<BR><BR>Ryo said: "I am happy, although I think I could have won that race. But Rossi is the World Champion and if I bear that in mind I have to be happy with second place."<BR><BR>Roberts said: "I was finding my pace in the race and was being held up by slower riders in front. Then the wet conditions played a part and I ended up in the gravel trap."<BR><BR>Gibernau said: "I was riding well, the bike was going well and I was fighting for the lead when I lost the front while cornering. I did everything as normal through the corner, but the track was very slippery and it caught me out. For sure I think I could have won, I was faster than Rossi and was getting ready to pass him when I lost the front. It is disappointing not to finish, but encouraging that the bike handled so well."<BR><BR>Team manager Garry Taylor said: "It is a great result to finish second at our first outing, but a bit disappointing not to win when we really deserved it. Well done to Akira Ryo and the entire team for being so competitive.<BR><BR>"I feel sorry for Kenny and Sete. Both riders were outstanding on new bikes in the rain despite no testing time. Sete would have been in with a shout for the win, and I'm sure Kenny would have been there as well, they are two of the best wet-weather riders on the grid.<BR><BR>"But now we must learn from this and continue to develop the bike into a race winner in all conditions. We'll have more parts, settings and tyres to try at Welkom in two-weeks time."<BR><BR>