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Blog: Back on the road

Published: 24 January 2007

Greetings comrades from a rather baking hot and sunny Malaysia. 

Happy New Year and all that but yes, after you've all had the pleasure of seven weeks without my ramblings, I'm back in blog mode and here in Sepang for the start of the 2007 MotoGP season.

After the wet and windy Cambridgeshire weather I've been subjected to lately, this is a bit of a culture shock coming into the sauna that is Sepang, and already I'm doing a bloody good Brit abroad impression with my lilywhite skin now sporting the lobster effect. 

Pretty painful in the shower tonight was the old sunburn I can tell you.

Anyway, so I'm back on the road after the suitcase was put into winter hibernation for seven weeks and here we are at the first test of the year with the new season less than eight weeks away.

Dominating everybody's thoughts here today again was the continued and shock resurgence of Suzuki. 

John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen were first and second today and pretty much every rider I spoke to passed comment on their performance. 

That includes Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi, who were singing the praises of John as he finished a massive 0.7s ahead of the rest.

I came here on Saturday on the long slog from Heathrow and I was wondering how the Suzuki would perform. 

They were fast in Sepang in November and were also right at the sharp end in the other 800cc tests at Valencia and Jerez. 

But the others were sure to have closed the gap, and this test would be a real gauge of how far they have come and whether they could keep the momentum going gained at the end of last year. 

Evidently they can, and Suzuki must be loving it in their newfound status as pacesetters. 

You know they must be doing well when a gaggle of the foreign media want to speak to John. 

No disrespect to some of my overseas media centre colleagues but a trip to the back of the Suzuki garage has not exactly been on their route planner as they tend to focus more the most part on their own. 

And why wouldn't they when they've got headlines galore being given to them by the likes of Valentino.

But John being fastest today meant he was mobbed. Clearly Suzuki have picked up where they left on from last year, and John was understandably pretty happy.

He's got one of the complete '07 bikes he'll race in Qatar here and he told me this afternoon that Suzuki had found more horsepower in the break that had given them about 3-4mph on top speed at the end of the straight. 

Casey Stoner was still fastest on the unofficial speed trap figures but Suzuki was only a whisker behind, which is something Suzuki engineers must be quietly smiling about.

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