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Still Receiving Concessions in 2016, Suzuki MotoGP Effort Poised to be More Competitive

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Suzuki is one of two teams (Aprilia being the other) still receiving concessions compared to its MotoGP competitors for the 2016 series. The concessions are a bit different this year, however, with all teams using the same tires and the same fuel capacity. Instead, Suzuki and Aprilia get 9 engines per rider (versus 7 per rider for the other teams), unlimited engine development (other teams are frozen as of the first race), and unlimited testing, including with factory riders (other teams get a total of 5 days).

At the recent Sepang test, Suzuki began testing a number of significant changes for 2016, including a new engine, chassis and seamless gear box. It appears the new engine is much more likely to offer competitive power this year and, together with the seamless gear box, much better acceleration off the corners. The jury is still out on the 2016 chassis, however, and Suzuki (like a lot of the other teams) still has plenty of work left dialing in the electronics. Pre-season testing resumes at Phillip Island on February 17.  Here is what the Suzuki team had to say after the Sepang test, followed by a short video:

Team Suzuki Press Office – February 3. The third and final day of the Sepang test saw rain complicating the program with early morning showers and another downpour after lunch splitting the day into two intensive sessions for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR.

However, Aleix Espargarò and Maverick Viñales could lap to almost complete the remaining part of their program, therefore collecting useful data for the engineers and they both now have a complete scenario of the available evolutions of the GSX-RR in terms of chassis and engine, together with some improvements in the electronics.

The riders will now fly to Japan to meet the R&D team in Hamamatsu and to complete some further tests in the wind tunnel that will help designers and engineers to further finalise the aerodynamics. The program will then take the whole Team to Phillip Island, Australia, for the second session of IRTA tests where the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR crew will be joined by Test Team rider Takuya Tsuda, who will also use the new type of seamless gearbox.

Satoru Terada – MotoGP Project Leader:

“Today we completed the first test in the New Year for the upcoming season and in fact these three days were very useful to verify our progress. We have introduced many new items from the Factory, such as new engine specs, new electronics improvements; and a new chassis, with positive outcome. It seems that the new engine specs and the seamless gave positive feelings to the riders and also a good improvement to the lap performance; obtaining a more-effective acceleration. We still have to work on the electronics and chassis, since we have some trouble with rear grip. Here we also introduced a new chassis, but apparently we need some more testing and development to make it more effective. The test in Phillip Island will help us in this way.”

Maverick Viñales:
Best lap: 2m01.244s.

“After today I must say that I am really confident. The first two days didn’t leave me feeling so easy, but today, especially after the last two hours of testing, I would say I feel good. Today I could be performing both on a single lap and on the pace, although we have rolled only with hard tyres. We also had some troubles but it is normal since we are at the first test with so many new items. We did some improvements with the electronics but we still have room for improvement, if we will find a good way to interpret it we will be much closer to the top. There are some riders who really made the difference here, but also some other Factory riders who are not so far from us. I had really good impressions from the seamless but also importantly I feel happy with the new engine. We still need to better finalise the electronics to exploit its full power, but already at this point the power delivery and overall power makes me very happy. Now we go to Australia, Phillip Island is a track I like a lot and will be in summer, so there will be a lot of grip. The conditions will be very hot and we were pretty competitive there last year, it will be a good chance to test more things even though we know that the places where we have to improve on are those like in Malaysia, with less grip.”

Aleix Espargaro:
Best lap: 2m01.623s.

“Today it’s been a difficult day because of the rain but I also had some positives. This morning we used the new engine with 2015 chassis and I had very positive feelings. We were very competitive and close to the top. In the afternoon we switched to the 2016 chassis but I couldn’t find a proper feeling, we need more testing to find a more effective configuration. At the beginning I would have liked to have continued with last year’s, but we must keep in mind that we are here for testing all news things and to send feedback to Japan so that they can further improve. The new chassis is still young, it’s normal it has some troubles and we need some more time to finalise it. I feel we have made positive improvements with the seamless and the electronics, as well as with the tyres. The confidence with the front-end has improved a lot and also the corner speed is faster. This was only the first real test, it’s true that we have had some troubles, but it’s part of the game and this is exactly the purpose why we are here. Tomorrow we fly to Japan to do some testing in the wind tunnel, they will probably help me to find better protection from the air since I am a pretty tall rider; and then we go to Australia where we will still have many things to try. The Factory is working really hard to deliver us improvements and updates, we keep working on pretty much all aspects; chassis, engine, gearbox, electronics and there is much room for improvement, but I feel totally positive about this.”

MALAYSIAN TEST – Day 3 Classification:

1. LORENZO, Jorge – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1:59.580
2. ROSSI, Valentino – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2:00.556 – +0.976
3. MARQUEZ, Marc – Repsol Honda Team – 2:00.883 – +1.303
4. CRUTCHLOW, Cal – LCR Honda – 2:00.992 – +1.412
5. STONER, Casey – Ducati Team – 2:01.070 – +1.490
6. PEDROSA, Dani – Repsol Honda Team – 2:01.161 – +1.581
7. PETRUCCI, Danilo – Octo Pramac Yakhnich – 2:01.217 – +1.637
8. IANNONE, Andrea – Ducati Team 2:01.223 – 1.643 – +0.006
9. REDDING, Scott – Octo Pramac Yakhnich – 2:01.229 – +1.649
10. VIÑALES, Maverick – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2:01.244 – +1.664
11. BARBERA, Hector Avintia Racing – 2:01.434 – 1.854 – +0.190
12. ESPARGARO, Aleix – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2:01.623 – +2.043

 

19 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “The concessions are a bit different this year, however, with all teams using the same tires and the same fuel capacity. Instead, Suzuki and Aprilia get 9 engines per rider (versus 7 per rider for the other teams), unlimited engine development (other teams are frozen as of the first race), and unlimited testing, including with factory riders (other teams get a total of 5 days).”

    i’m going to allow it.

  2. todd says:

    I can’t help but think that Suzuki would be in top place if they let Jorge or Valentino ride their bikes…

  3. Jeremy in TX says:

    I like the rule. Nobody in the series has the financial resources of Honda. Even Yamaha is a small fry in comparison. It is already hard enough to beat either of those teams. If they both had unlimited engine development, it would be about impossible. The rule gives the underdogs an opportunity to catch up to the benchmarks that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Once they get within reach, they have to play by the same rules. Until then, they get a handicap. I’m okay with that.

  4. mickey says:

    Best of luck this year to Suzuki and their young riders Aleix and Maverick. Hope they can score a couple of podiums.

  5. TimC says:

    “unlimited engine development (other teams are frozen as of the first race)” – this continues to rankle. So if you start out behind in this dept…good luck.

    As far as I know this isn’t new (not sure when it was put in place) but it’s still stupid.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I like the rule. Nobody in the series has the financial resources of Honda. Even Yamaha is a small fry in comparison. It is already hard enough to beat either of those teams. If they both had unlimited engine development, it would be about impossible. The rule gives the underdogs an opportunity to catch up to the benchmarks that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Once they get within reach, they have to play by the same rules. Until then, they get a handicap. I’m okay with that.

      • TimC says:

        But Yamaha had issues with straight-line pull last year. Too bad they couldn’t address those.

        • mickey says:

          Tim do you mean acceleration? and Honda had issues with an explosive delivery making it hard to come out of a corner, but that is what preseason testing is for. They can make changes up until season starts (as they all are right now) but once the flag drops for the first race, they have to run what they have decided on.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I don’t think Yamaha considered that an issue – more like a compromise. I had read a while back that their objective was to make the bike as tractable as possible for their specific riders which they conceded cost them a little during the high-speed drag race on the long straights.

          • TimC says:

            M/J interesting points. I guess I’d have like to see them be able to work on being able to compromise less :).

          • mickey says:

            well, regardless of lacking the long straightaway speeds, the Yamahas did finish 1, 2 in the championship and despite having the highest straight away speeds the Ducati’s finished well back. The points go not to the bike that is the fastest down the straights, but to the bikes that go quickest around the entire track.

          • Provologna says:

            Re. “maximum velocity” vs. minimum E.T. around the track. This is an excellent and enlightening discussion, analogous to football fan debate “defense wins championships” vs. offense, special teams, etc.

            The bottom line for racing is ET circling the track, regardless maximum velocity any particular area of the track, straights, apex, pre or post apex. Ditto, in football, it’s whoever has more points after 60 minutes of play, the sum total of defense, offense, and ST play.

          • TimC says:

            Reading these replies, I find it interesting that I’m apparently in some kind of minority regarding part of the interest of motorsports being continuous improvements in technology and innovation.

            Yes I realize costs are a problem but in that case I’d rather see a formula go away rather than be restricted.

            And yes I’m still pissed off that Can-Am killed the fan car, not to mention the 917….

          • Scott says:

            TimC, it may be because of the constant complaining about how MotoGP is boring, and the same high-dollar teams keep winning all the time.

            People can’t have it both ways. You can’t have close, ultra-competitive, even-handed racing where anyone can win on any given day, without restrictions to artificially keep everything even.

            Since it seems the majority want to see this close racing, the restrictions win.

            The irony here is that everyone seems to ridicule the NASCAR formula, but when they tell you what they want to see from MotoGP, they actually describe the NASCAR model to a tee!

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “The irony here is that everyone seems to ridicule the NASCAR formula, but when they tell you what they want to see from MotoGP, they actually describe the NASCAR model to a tee!”

            It isn’t rules that make NASCAR lame, IMO, it is that they race in a circle. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t ever want to see MotoGP equalized to the point that NASCAR engines and cars are, but it would still be pretty entertaining so long as the bikes didn’t race in a circle.

          • mickey says:

            Tim C says “Reading these replies, I find it interesting that I’m apparently in some kind of minority regarding part of the interest of motorsports being continuous improvements in technology and innovation”.

            LOL I’m much more simple minded than that ..they say “here are the rules” I say Ok, I will play by them.

            Technology continues to move forward continuously and in the off season the technology is applied to what they will run the following season all the while playing inside the rules as handed down”.

            Racing season only lasts for several months, bright minds, engineers and factory test riders are at work every day all 12 months to make stuff better/faster/easier to ride for the next season.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “The points go not to the bike that is the fastest down the straights, but to the bikes that go quickest around the entire track.”

            “The Yamaha M1 is the fastest bike in a circle…” (Colin Edwards voice)

          • Dave says:

            Re: “Yes I realize costs are a problem but in that case I’d rather see a formula go away rather than be restricted.”

            Taken to it’s conclusion, taking away the formula would see MotoGP closed down in 2 years. A couple of years ago, MotoGP had 12 bikes on the starting line. Even now, with more favorable rules in place, if you’re not on a Blue Yamaha or an Orange Honda, you have no chance to win – AT ALL.

            Notice that the Moto 2 & Moto 3 grids have been full through it all.

  6. Alonzo... says:

    I still think Suzuki would get a better return on their money in World Superbike compared to the costs of MotoGP…