Suzuki plan five European tests of new 1000 MotoGP bike
Suzuki plans to pitch its new factory 1000cc MotoGP bike against Honda, Yamaha and Ducati in at least three public tests in Europe in 2013.
The Japanese factory will also take part in two private tests this season as it plots a full-time return to the MotoGP world championship with a two-rider effort in 2014.
While there is no approval for a return at board level yet, Suzuki’s race department is pressing on with its new 1000cc project, which is currently being extensively tested and developed by former racer Nobuatsu Aoki.
Aoki confirmed to MCN during a visit to the Sepang MotoGP test in Malaysia last week that an all-new machine was unveiled late in February with a completely new engine and chassis compared to the bike he has been previously testing for a year in Japan.
If tests at Suzuki’s proving course in Japan progress positively then the new bike could get its European debut in the post race test at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona in mid-June.
Aoki said that Suzuki then planned an additional Spanish test at the Motorland Aragon track before taking part in a second public outing immediately after the Misano race in September.
A private session at Mugello would then follow before Suzuki planned to participate in the traditional post race test immediately after the final race in Valencia in November.
Aoki confirmed that a European rider would join him during each test. That is widely tipped to be Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who has the consent of his Aspar Aprilia team to test ride the Suzuki as and when required.
But there is still no official confirmation about de Puniet’s testing deal.
There are no plans for the Suzuki to be raced as a wild card in 2013 but Aoki said the latest generation 1000cc machine he rode for the first time in Japan last week impressed him.
He told MCN: “The feeling from this bike was brilliant, the engine performance was good and the chassis feeling was great. For sure there are lot of things to improve but the basic package is very good.
"I was a little bit worried because they made a lot of design changes and sometimes this can be a problem but they made a great job and I was really surprised.”
Aoki spent most of his time trackside in Sepang to try and understand the electronic strategies used by Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, while also assessing the change in riding style required for the new generation Bridgestone tyres since Suzuki withdrew from MotoGP at the end of 2011.
He added: “In MotoGP the electronics are everything and because Suzuki has missed a couple of years it means there is a huge gap for us in this area compared to Honda, Yamaha and Ducati and we have to close this gap. Also out of the track I can hear the exhaust note and I can imagine what they are doing.
"Also the Bridgestone tyre improves every year, so the combination of the electronics and tyres determines which direction Suzuki needs to go.”
For exclusive coverage of the second Sepang test, see the March 6 issue of MCN.