Sepang test: Loris Capirossi buoyed by top three

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Italian veteran Loris Capirossi is confident Suzuki has transformed its fortunes after he produced a major surprise during the first MotoGP test in 2009.

Fastest on the first day and second yesterday, the triple world champion finished third overall with a best lap of 2.01.262 on the all-new factory GSV-R.

Capirossi was only 0.125s slower than compatriot and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi and just over 0.2s off the leading pace set by former Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner.

Suzuki had a raft of new parts to test in Sepang, including three new chassis, two swingarms and a revised spec V4 motor. This year’s bike also features a completely redesigned seat and fuel tank and new fairing.

The winter improvements certainly impressed Capirossi, who is preparing for his 20th world championship campaign in 2009.

Capirossi told MCN: “I think we are all impressed with these three days of testing. Last year we struggled a lot but we came to this test with good expectations and we leave with a lot of optimism for the future.

“The bike is working really good and we tested a lot of new parts for the engine and the chassis and we have found a good direction.”

Capirossi, who will start the season in Qatar on 99 career podium finishes, completed a long distance run of 20 laps today but admitted he’d wrongly opted for the softer compound Bridgestone tyre.

There are only two choices now under the new single tyre rule and Capirossi added: “I’m a bit upset about the long run because I decided not to make it with a hard tyre and it would have been better.

“In the morning after 17 laps I did a 2.01.4 with the hard tyre but Suzuki said it was better to try with the soft tyre to understand the endurance.

“The pace is 2.02.4. or 2.02.5 and I know I can go much quicker. I did my long run though when the track temperature was 57 degrees and it was really hot.”

While delighted with his performance in Sepang, Capirossi urged Suzuki not to sit content with the first version of its 2009 GSV-R.

Capirossi and Aussie team-mate Chris Vermeulen, who was sixth fastest overall, have both requested more top end power from the V4 motor.

Capirossi said: “We have to work on that but I’m not sure when something will be ready.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt