It was meant to be an historic but undramatic ride, a demonstration lap showing off the first ever MotoGP bike on the Isle of Man. Instead, the Suzuki GSV-R’s 2010 parade lap left spectators, racers, technicians and officials stunned.
uzuki’s factory TT racer Cameron Donald lapped the 37.73 mile course on the GSV-R in 19minutes 35seconds – an average speed of 116mph. But he slowed for one minute waiting for then MCN editor Marc Potter to catch up, making his actual lap speed over 122mph. This would have put him just outside the top 20 in the Senior race – on a parade lap!
Before Donald went out on the bike he was concerned it was going to be too stiff, too twitchy, and the MotoGP tyres would never get up to working temperature. He was resigned to an easy lap.
However, by the time he got to the bottom of Bray Hill he was comfortable on the bike and “gave it hell”.
The 240bhp, V4 MotoGP bike was fully datalogged, and Suzuki gave MCN access to the headline figures:
■ Donald hit 201.43mph down Sulby Straight – the fastest ever GPS-recorded speed at the TT and 10mph faster than any of the race bikes this year.
■ He lapped in 19 minutes 35seconds at an average speed of 115.7mph. If you take out the one minute waiting for MCN Editor Marc Potter who was following on a road-going Suzuki GSX-R1000 the average speed was 122.0mph. Donald slowed down because of rain over the Mountain.
■ The front steel brake disc reached a temperature of 530°C
Donald told MCN: “That was the best thing I have ever done in my life. Before I went out Loris (Capirossi) told me he thought the bike was going to be a handful over the bumps because the chassis is so stiff.
‘It was just incredible’
“I had literally not even run the bike at tickover before I went out. I was absolutely sh**ing myself. I had to ask how many revs to get off the line. They told me 15,000rpm so that’s exactly what I did and it just went off like a rocket.
“I can’t believe how nice that bike was to ride. It was so smooth, so linear. Just incredible. Another couple of laps around here on that bike and I have no doubt I could beat my superbike lap time [Donald did a 129.504mph lap].
“It has really taken me by surprise how good the bike has been to ride around here. It was like riding a two-stroke in many ways because of the way it revs up so quickly. The stability of the bike was impressive too. I was running into some of the corners really hot and it remained stable.
“Down Sulby Straight I was really pushing it hard and it was so stable down the fast bit and on the brakes into the right turn over the bridge. It just drove up the hill.
‘It was better than my superbike’
“There were places where the GP bike was lots better than the superbike. At Ballacraine, for example the superbike is back to second gear and really driving through the turn and it’s really tying -itself in knots. You can feel all that torque driving through the back wheel.
“On the GP bike it’s back to first gear and keep the revs high and it just pulls through. Combine that with the much lower weight of the bike compared to the superbike and it makes for a -machine that you can place where you want, when you want. I did give a few close passes to some people. Just after Ballaugh is where a lot of the pitboard guys are sat. I gave them a really good close run near the wall. The engine doesn’t have the same slow, progressive build-up like the four-stroke. It was all high up in the rev range – just like a two-stroke. Awesome.”
Fans stayed in position after the -climax of the Senior TT to catch a glimpse of the Suzuki. As the noise built up the crowds were edging forward for the best view.
In the Senior next year?
Many said it was hard to keep track of where the bike was because the noise was so much greater than a normal TT race bike. Spectators at Creg-ny-Baa said they thought the bike was just around the corner from Kate’s Cottage but in fact it was miles away.
Donald added: “It was phenomenal how good that was to ride. It’s made up for my terrible day in the racing and it’s something I will never forget doing. I can’t thank Suzuki enough for making this happen.”
Rizla Suzuki team boss Paul Denning said: “If the factory are up for us to bring the bike back for the Senior TT next year then we are up for that too. I can’t imagine they will, but this lap has shown us the bike can be made to lap well.
“A lot of the reason for the bike feeling so stable is to do with the suspension which is 42mm diameter fork tubes. They have a bit more flex than the big 46mm superbike forks used here normally. This has been a fantastic experience for us as well as Cameron.”
Words Andy Downes Photos Pacemaker