Suzuki MotoGP Makes Big Steps At Sepang Test

Road Racing

SUZUKI MotoGP has concluded its three-day season-opening MotoGP test at Sepang in Malaysia today with positive results and valuable new data acquired in readiness for its full MotoGP comeback in 2015. 

Team riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales continued to improve their lap-times around the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, enthusiastic about progress made this week; and the improvements and refinements made to their GSX-RRs. 

Espargaro completed a total of 137 laps to finish 10th in the overall rankings after setting a best-lap of 2:00.486 today; an improvement of 1.73-seconds since testing began on Wednesday. 

MotoGP class rookie Vinales, who recorded a total of 176 laps, moved up to 12th overall today after lapping at 2:00.964; a significant improvement of 2.2-seconds from his initial first-session time. 

Satoru Terada - Team Director/ Project Leader: 

The most important thing is that we had no major troubles and no crashes, plus we completed a full three-days of testing. Both of our riders have made great improvements, which has given us the confidence in the work we have done over the winter; and we are even-more motivated now. 

We are quite happy with their lap-times as they have improved a great amount during the three-days, and we are clearer now on the areas we have to work on. The factory needs to find the optimal-solution now for our upcoming tests so that we can get ready for the first race in Qatar. 

Davide Brivio - Team Manager: 

Im very happy with this test because we were able to achieve some good improvements and also get some good answers and feedback. First of all, our reliability has greatly improved, we have run for three-days now, plus two-days previously with our test riders; which means five-days without any problems. This shows that the engineers at the factory in Japan have worked well during the winter, and they have made a great effort.

We were also able to work a lot with both our riders and put-in many laps and this helped them both to understand the bike more and we could therefore improve the settings of their machines. We also made good improvements on the electronics-side as well, and overall, the package seems to be at a good level already, because we learned that we have a very good chassis and a very good bike which Aleix and Maverick are happy to ride. 

The other thing that we have to mention is that our riders are obviously a very-strong factor of this whole package and development: They work very hard and they get along with the team crews very well, which I believe is very important; so there are many positive elements here. But we also know our weak-points, but I think our engineers have acquired sufficient information here to find a solution to them all. We still have a lot of work to do and theres a long way ahead to achieve them yet, but I would say that we are having a promising start. Its been a hard winter for everybody and I want to thank all the guys in Japan; everyone needs to continue going forward and we have to continue to give our best. 

Aleix Espargaro: 

Overall Im very happy with the first test and we have to be proud of improving a lot of the reliability of the engine. We had no problems in three days which is great and the atmosphere of the team is really fantastic. I already feel better than last year as I am very comfortable with the team. Its very important for me that I feel the people working together are my family; so Im very happy about this! 

Im also happy that the bike is improving and developing really quickly: From the first test I think that our bike is not so-far-off the factory Yamaha and Ducati, so we have to be proud of that - although we still have to continue really hard. We finished the test 1.6-seconds away from the factory Honda, so we need to be closer at the next test. 

I know that the Suzuki engineers and technicians will work really hard at the factory and I will also train harder in my house to be fully-fit. It wont be easy during the first part of the season, as everything is still new, but Im really optimistic. 

Maverick Vinales: 

Im very happy as we worked so hard from the opening day of the test and we made some big steps forward. We improved more than two seconds from the first day, so we are very happy. We worked so much with the chassis all the time during the past three days and I believe that we can go two-to-three steps better now. 

I would like to concentrate a little bit more on the engine-side for me at the next test, but the chassis is perfect; I can go 100% on the bike and I can push so much more with the front tyre, so that this is what I really like a lot with the bike. I can go so fast into the corners and this is the big advantage. If we are able to have slightly more engine power, and keep this advantage of the chassis, I believe that we can make even bigger improvements. 

Although Im struggling a little bit on how to manage the tyres - as its so very different to Moto2 - finding the best lines is a slightly difficult-point for me right now. My team helped me a lot finding the best lines and I managed this and improved a lot during the test. Im so happy that all the crews and engineers worked so hard for me during these three days of testing and Im really looking forward to our next test. 

SUZUKI MotoGP returns to Sepang at the end of the month to continue development of the GSX-RR and test new settings and development acquired this week, in readiness for the opening MotoGP Championship round at Losail, Qatar on March 29th. 

Sepang Results Day 1-3 combined times: 1 Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:58.867, 2 Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:59.006, 3 Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:59.388, 4 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:59.401 , 5 Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:59.624, 6 Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:59.851, 7 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:59.874, 8 Stefan Bradl (Yamaha) 2:00.294, 9 Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:00.384, 10 Aleix Espargaro (SUZUKI MotoGP) 2:00.486, 11 Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 2:00.536, 12 Maverick Vinales (SUZUKI MotoGP) 2:00.964.