Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 11 Nov 2014
The man in charge of the development of Suzuki’s MotoGP project, Satoru Terada, has said that the long-term plan for the Japanese manufacturer is to be fighting for the MotoGP championship by 2017.
The final round of the 2014 season in Valencia saw Suzuki compete in their first race since withdrawing from MotoGP in 2011. Randy de Puniet, who has been developing the new bike over the last two years, rode the GSX-RR in a wildcard appearance but things didn’t exactly go to plan. The GSX-RR suffered technical issues on all three days, with de Puniet retiring from Sunday’s race after twelve laps.
“Our wildcard race was not good,” Terada admitted. “We had several problems during the weekend. Our MotoGP bike showed strong durability on the dyno but this weekend we had some minor problems on track. We know what happened with our engine but unfortunately we don’t have the time this week to fix it. We know we can fix it though and it will be fixed by the next test. Then we will be able to have more speed and more power. Our bike is not so bad, it has shown potential already. Our biggest problem at the moment is the reliability but also the power.”
Terada explained that Suzuki’s return to MotoGP was all about strengthening the link between racing and production motorcycles, hence the GSX-RR featuring an inline four cylinder engine rather than a V4 powerplant similar to the one used in their previous Grand Prix racer.
“Suzuki thinks it is very important to link racing activity with production bikes,” Terada continued. “MotoGP is a good opportunity to promote the brand, you may have seen Suzuki have now launched the GSX-R in the same livery as the MotoGP bike and some other production models now use this colour. The link between MotoGP and production will be more and more in the future. Also the name, this bike is called the GSX-RR to strengthen this link.
“We don’t have V4 engines in our production bikes so we chose an inline four cylinder engine for MotoGP. It is a little bit more difficult to get power with an inline four engine but we believe we can get reasonable power from our bike. With the minor problems over the weekend, we turned the horsepower down to improve durability. On the dyno there was no problem with the engine, but on the track it is different conditions.”
A lot has changed since Suzuki left MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season and the level of technology used by other factories has developed hugely. One major change in the last few years has seen the top manufacturers start using seamless gearboxes, allowing riders to change gear with an almost unnoticeable cut in power.
“We are developing a seamless gearbox for the GSX-RR and our target is for it to be ready for the start of next season,” Tarada explained. “We have already started testing it, there are many different levels of testing so we do not know when it will be ready but we are hoping it will be ready for the start of next year.”
When asked about Suzuki’s performance targets upon their return next year, Terada was coy but stated a clear three year plan.
“Our project is very new and we know this is a very big challenge. Our target for next two years is to challenge for the podium and then in three years we want to be challenging for the championship. “
In 2016 Michelin will take over from Bridgestone as the sole tyre supplier in MotoGP, Randy de Puniet will continue to work with Suzuki to develop the GSX-RR with the new tyres over the next 12 months.
“We have already started testing with Michelin,” said Terada. “The tyres are very different, the rider says it feels different in both the front and rear but the lap time is not so different from Bridgestones already. At the moment we think we can adapt our chassis for the tyres.”
Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales got their first taste of the GSX-RR in Valencia yesterday, with both riders commenting on the strength of its chassis and how well the bike turns.