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Suzuki take another step forward at Phillip Island

Suzuki take another step forward at Phillip Island

Suzuki take another step forward at Phillip Island

Team Suzuki today concluded a week of factory tests at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, their second intense session with the 2003 prototype GSV-R racer. Kenny Roberts Jr. and John Hopkins, who took delivery of the new machine for the first time in January at tests in Sepang, have reported huge improvements on the 2002 model and were once again impressed after testing for four days, starting on Monday and taking a break on Wednesday, finishing early on Friday when high winds spoiled the otherwise favourable track conditions.

"The tests went pretty well, with good weather right up until the last day, and we were able to get a lot done," commented Roberts. "There's not a lot to complain about – you can't put your finger on any big problems, and we were working mainly on setting stuff. The mechanics and engineers are still learning about the new machine's good and bad habits, and how to set it from there. Until we test with the other guys, we won't really know where we're at. The bike is definitely faster than last year's, but maybe not enough yet. We're definitely on the right track to be competitive."

John Hopkins continues to get to grips with the powerful four-stroke machine after stepping up from the Yamaha YZR500 at the end of last year: "I had a slow start with some niggling problems on the first days, but I got a lot of stuff done on the last two … not so much in terms of lap time, but useful information," he said. "We'd put that together, and my best times were on the last day, with the improvements we found. We're taking small steps, but we're getting there. The bike's a lot easier to ride than last year's, much more rider-friendly, and we're working on making the changes of direction better still. I'm looking forward to sizing up the opposition at Jerez, and to getting the best from the new bike before the start of the season."

Engineers in Japan will now continue to refine the exciting new GSV-R, all changed from last year's ground-breaking first 990cc V4 MotoGP four-stroke, in the break before the next tests at Jerez on February 21-23. The team then has further tests scheduled in Spain and Japan, before the first race of the year at Suzuka in Japan on April 6.

MotoGP, 2003

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