Suzuki Going 4-stroke for 2002 MotoGP Series

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
After such a terrible 2001 season with the RGV500, Suzuki has decided to pull up it's 4-stroke development program and bring in the diesel for the first race of 2002. With news of impressive lap times from the Yamaha camp, it's possible that the 1000 cc 4-strokes may well be more competitive than the 500cc 2-strokes after all. Suzuki's putting all it's eggs in that basket anyway.

Suzuki will contest the 2002 MotoGP World Championship with two 4 stroke XREO machines running on Dunlop tyres. Telefonica Movistar Suzuki Team Manager Garry Taylor confirmed that current riders Kenny Roberts Jr. and Sete Gibernau will pilot the revolutionary new motorcycles from the first race at Suzuka on April 7th.

The XREO is a 990cc, 60-degree, V4 configuration engine design with a single crankshaft, gear-driven DOHC and electronic fuel injection. It has already undergone intense dyno testing and is now in the new chassis and could be ridden as soon as this afternoon. However, Roberts and Gibernau will not test until January, when they will travel to Japan to straddle the new machine for the first time.

The decision to bring the 4 stroke project onto the track in 2002 is great news for the team,' said Taylor. 'Initial tests in Japan have shown that the engine is exceeding power and reliability targets and we look forward to being competitive in MotoGP. The decision to run Dunlop tyres was taken by the team of designers who created the XREO machine. They have had a long relationship with Dunlop in American and World Superbike competitions where they have won many titles and we are very happy with this development. We made the request to Suzuki to bring the 4 stroke project forward about two thirds of the way through last season. They were very conservative in their response and I think they were right to be so because we maybe would have lost focus on the 2 stroke machines. Now they have confirmed what we were all hoping for and the whole team is very excited.'

Taylor's enthusiasm was mirrored by former 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr. 'This is the most exciting news I have heard in a long time. I am extremely pleased with Suzuki's decision to bring forward the 4 stroke project and I am happy to be a part of this progression. It is going to be a very interesting time for Grand Prix racing. I think that through this decision Suzuki have shown their commitment to win another World Championship. Grand Prix racing has not seen the last of Suzuki and Kenny Roberts Junior winning races and championships.'

'This is the best Christmas present I have ever had!' claimed Roberts' team-mate Sete Gibernau. 'I am delighted Suzuki have listened to our request to bring the 4 stroke project forward to 2002. If we can combine Suzuki's excellent handling with increased power then I know that we will be challenging for more victories next season. We already experimented with some chassis and airbox set-ups on the 2 stroke and now I can't wait to get my hands on the 4 stroke. Results last year were not as we had hoped for but now we can all look towards the future with renewed optimism.'

Get in your Inbox
Colin MacKellar
Colin MacKellar

More by Colin MacKellar

Join the conversation