Suzuki put its new prototype race bike through its first test laps alongside other MotoGP racers in preparation for its impending return to racing in the 2015 season.
Test rider Nobuatsu Aoki, who had been playing a key role in the racebike’s development, took the new Suzuki 1000cc Inline-Four prototype out for a few shakedown laps before handing things over to Randy de Puniet who completed the bulk of the testing at Spain’s Catalunya circuit.
After a day of testing, de Puniet put up the eighth-best lap time, clocking in at 1:42.676, just 0.772 seconds behind Yamaha‘s Jorge Lorenzo who had the top lap time among all participants. It’s important to note however that Repsol Honda and series leader Dani Pedrosa did not participate in this test. De Puniet’s best time was faster than three other prototype racers, beating Pramac Ducati‘s Andrea Iannone, Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith and Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. De Puniet was however 0.139 seconds behind his Power Electronics Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro on a Aprilia-powered CRT machine.
De Puniet’s lap times were respectable, considering its level of development compared to its competition, but with some major rule changes in the works for next season, it’s not surprising Suzuki decided to delay its MotoGP comeback from its initial 2014 target.
Suzuki test team manager Davide Brivio explained the reason behind moving the comeback to 2015 in an interview with MotoGP.com.
“Suzuki thought we needed more time to develop,” says Brivio. “There are some quite important rule changes coming up – new electronics and even more restricted fuel consumption. To enter MotoGP and to challenge such strong competitors as the two brands that are dominating now is not an easy thing.
“We like to be prepared and to be ready for that, so one more year will be very useful to set up the bike and fix the decision about specification. So, we have delayed it by one year, but I think it is very, very important and very positive that Suzuki has announced that we will re-enter MotoGP.”
Brivio also says the team is currently working with an Electronic Control Unit from long-time Suzuki supplier Mitsubishi, but the manufacturer will be switching to the more standard Magneti Marelli ECU.
Suzuki will conduct further tests later this week at MotorLand Aragon.
[Source: Suzuki, MotoGP.com (YouTube)]