These are the first pictures of French rider Randy de Puniet making his debut on Suzuki’s new 1000cc MotoGP project at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan this week.
The current Aspar Aprilia rider has been given special permission by Spanish team boss Jorge Martinez to carry out a series of test and development rides for Suzuki ahead of a planned full-time return to MotoGP for the Japanese factory in 2014.
Details of the test, including lap times, have not been released but the bike looks identical to the one that test rider Nobuatsu Aoki was spied riding in Japan recently.
The first time the new Suzuki, which has been in development for over a year in Japan, will be seen in public will be immediately after the forthcoming Catalunya MotoGP round next month at a post-race test session.
Valentino Rossi’s former factory Yamaha boss Davide Brivio attended the Motegi test and he is a certainty to lead the Suzuki effort next season from an Italian HQ.
Brivio has signed a contract to run Suzuki’s European testing schedule for the remainder of the year and what we can also observe from these exclusive shots is that an integral part of the test team is crew chief Tom O’Kane.
He is a highly respected crew chief in MotoGP and a long-serving member of the Suzuki factory squad before it temporarily suspended its premier class effort at the end of 2011.
O’Kane was crew chief for Aussie Chris Vermeulen and he also worked with Spaniard Alvaro Bautista after a long career at Team Roberts.
British rider Cal Crutchlow is a leading candidate to ride for Suzuki in 2014 after his impressive start to this campaign on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1, which included a career best second in Le Mans last weekend.
Pics: Shigeo Kibiki