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Bayle testing for Suzuki at Catalunya

Bayle testing for Suzuki at Catalunya

Bayle testing for Suzuki at Catalunya

Suzuki, Aprilia and Kawasaki all headed north from Jerez to Barcelona this week for two days of testing at the Catalunya circuit. The teams began valuable development work under cloudy but warm conditions on Tuesday, with Jean Michel Bayle beginning his first test on John Hopkins´ GSV-R. The vastly experienced Frenchman, who was recently a part of the Suzuki Endurance team which took a one-two at the Le Mans 24 hour, was asked by the Japanese factory to aid with development of the MotoGP prototype, and he accepted the opportunity with open arms.

`I have been working for Suzuki for two and a half years now and I know Kenny (Roberts) very well so we decided it was a good idea to work together,´ said Bayle, who rode two Grand Prix last season for Red Bull Yamaha. `The good thing is that in my career I have tried many bikes – the 500 two-strokes, the Endurance GSX-R1000 and now the MotoGP four-stroke. I have a very open mind because I am used to changing bikes so I can adapt easily and try to fix one problem at a time.

Although Hopkins rode to a superb seventh at Jerez on Sunday, Bayle was able to make some early evaluations into where the bike needs to improve to be consistently challenging at the front of the pack. `The bike is completely new, and there is so much power that it is a challenge to get it to grip. There is a lot of work – not only from a mechanical point of view but also in the electronics and the software. It can take a long time to make effective changes in these areas.´

Bayle has a reputation for being an astute tester who provides excellent feedback, but he also sees life from the perspective of a top level racer, a valuable bonus for Roberts and Hopkins. `Racers just want to race – they want a good bike so they can go out and set quick lap times. It is not easy for them to spend a lot of time waiting and trying out new settings, so it is my job to take that responsibility off them a little. I am here to test the things that are difficult to test and take a long time to develop, so that Kenny and John can have a good bike which is easy to ride.´

Despite insisting his role is purely to help the team riders, Bayle refused to rule out a GP appearance before the end of the season. `I am very happy doing these tests, riding a nice bike and helping to improve it, and I think we will do some more in the future. As far as racing it is concerned, if the Japanese ask me to ride as a wildcard then maybe I will not say `no´ - but that doesn´t mean I would say `yes´ either!´

MotoGP, 2003

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