Suzuki XREO Fast at Philip Island
Suzuki's new four-stroke GP racer completed the first round of tests atthe Australian GP Circuit today, with no hitches and steady progress.Now the Telefonica Movistar Suzuki team and riders are eagerly awaitingthe next stage of development of the all new MotoGP machine.
Regular riders Kenny Roberts Jr and Sete Gibernau, along with factorytester Yukio Kagayoma, battled high winds at the circuit, but stillmanaged to bring the first part of the program to a successfulconclusion.
Now the team takes a short break while the factory race departmentincorporates important changes to the machine's settings andelectronics. The next stage of the high-intensity development...
takesplace at the Catalunya GP circuit outside Barcelona early next month,where the new bike will be seen in public for the first time.
The machine, powered by an all new fuel-injected 60-degree V4 engine of990cc, is one of the new generation of Grand Prix motorcycles built tonew regulations, pitting four stroke prototypes against the established500cc two-stroke GP bikes. Although originally intended to race in 2003,Suzuki's first prototype showed so much progress that the programme wasput forward by a full year to join the other MotoGP pioneers in thefirst season of the new class.
Over the past three weeks it has been tested at Sepang in Malaysia, andat Eastern Creek and Phillip Island in Australia. During that timefactory engineers have been working flat out to take the bike from firstprototype stage, The team has established a clear direction ofdevelopment of both engine and chassis. Now the factory has a chance tomake bigger changes to comply with its requirements.
"These tests were merely extended shake-down runs," said team managerGarry Taylor. "It's important that people understand that the bike isstill at the very early stages of development, and as a result we arestill making fairly fundamental changes rather than small refinements.This means there is a certain reaction time to our requests, none of usexpected to leave Australia with the whole job done.
"We have been dogged by bad weather in Australia. The first day atPhillip Island was still, but we had a lot of problems with birds on theseaside circuit. The next two days were very windy, which meant weweren't able to complete as many laps as we would have liked.
"At the same time, we've learned a lot and made a lot of progress - andalso proved that the new bike has tremendous potential. The team's moodis still very positive and importantly we are coming away with bothriders fit and strong.
"We are realistic enough to know that the bike is still very new andincludes a lot of engineering and electronics that are still at theprototype stage. There is a lot to be done before it is fully ready torace, and time is short. But everybody involved - from the riders andmechanics to the factory engineers - is deeply committed to achievesuccess as soon as possible, and we have taken the first step."
The bike's next outing will be in Spain, filming a TV commercial, forsponsors MoviStar, before joining the "open to all" IRTA test atCatalunya on the second week in March, where they will meet the rivalfour-strokes and two-strokes for the first time.
Kenny Roberts: Unleashing the potential
"We're under no illusion, there is a lot to do before this bike is readyto race, we've started the work and the first stage is over. Now we waitfor the factory to make the changes we've asked for, to take the bike tothe next level. Everybody is working really hard and we need to keep upthe 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, andwe are working on achieving it."
Sete Gibernau: Bad weather, good experiences
"Of course the weather was frustrating. It would have been so nice torun strings of laps in good conditions at Phillip Island, but thatwasn't possible. We still managed to achieve quite a lot. There is sucha positive feeling in the team, and the bike is obviously a big stepforward. The engine is very strong and that is our big area ofconcentration. We need to get a throttle response right so we can useall of that power."
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