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Denning: `We have to be more competitive at the first race´

Denning: `We have to be more competitive at the first race´

Rizla Suzuki boss Paul Denning chats to about the work his team have been doing to prepare for the start of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship.

Paul Denning provides the lowdown on what to expect from Loris Capirossi, Chris Vermeulen, the Rizla Suzuki team and the evolving Suzuki GSV-R800 prototype in 2009.

Q. `What have Suzuki been developing over the winter break, based on the data from the November wind tunnel and Phillip Island tests?´
A. `The general feeling was that we had improved the bike a lot in that month between the last race and the last test of 2008, as that time allowed certain material to be implemented, which was great. The factory had improved the engine character quite a lot at the Phillip Island test, but the main target after that test was to find additional overall performance, so that has been the focus over the winter. We don´t really have any conclusive track data because of course the weather in Japan during the winter does not allow track testing to be a real possibility, but the bench data looks quite promising compared to the end of ´08. Fingers crossed, we will see a decent result in the Sepang (Malaysia) and (Losail) Qatar tests coming up.´

Q. `What kind of requests have the riders been making for changes to the 2009 bike?´
A. `Really it has been to have more `grunt´. They were really pleased with the overall package improvements at Phillip Island in November in terms of some of the control strategies, the power delivery and the controllability of the power through the bottom and mid-range of the engine. They are very happy with the progress that has been made and are now hoping to take the next steps with a bit more of increased performance. If we can find that we think the bike has a good chance to be very competitive.´

Q. `Casey Stoner recently commented that four days of testing was enough to get used to a bike. From a team perspective do you think that there is enough testing time for Suzuki to make the required leap forward?´
A. `The answer is, it depends on how good your bike is on the first day of the test in Sepang. If any team is really struggling at the end of January then no, there is not enough testing before the first race. So one has to hope that the logical steps taken from the end of November to the end of January, stroke early February, pay dividends. If you have got that solid basis to work from it is not really an issue. I think from a riders´ perspective these are the best riders in the world. At the end of 2007 when Loris jumped on our bike for the first time in Valencia on his very first pit exit he did a very good lap time, I think he went faster immediately than he had on the Ducati all weekend before that. So the top quality riders will find the bike´s limits relatively quickly, so Casey is right. Where it becomes a different story is if you´ve got a fundamental problem to fix.´

Q. `Team managers and engineers have been giving their opinions on how to cut costs in MotoGP. What measures are Suzuki in favour of and against?´
A. `We need to discuss things again carefully in Sepang at the next test. There is a generic agreement that cutting costs is a fundamental requirement. It is not a wish, it is a fundamental requirement to safeguard the future of the championship. Some of the short term measures that have already been suggested are not going to be very effective, but they may be a minor help. The key point is that with the manufacturers, Dorna, IRTA, looking at things from a promoter´s perspective, an organizational perspective, a private team perspective and so on, all factors have to be considered in terms of priority and that big changes are needed, rather than small tweaks. I think there need to be some fairly fundamental, sweeping changes, to take a decent percentage out of the costs, in order to make the decision making process easier for manufacturers and teams, for participation and making it more attractive to provide further bikes and expand the championship in the future. That has to be the ultimate target.´

Q. `What are your general expectations for your riders and the Suzuki team for 2009?´
A. `To do better than last year and hopefully get ourselves back to our 2007 levels, when we were able to run with the front group more regularly. I think we have got the riders to do that and I think the bike package will be a lot closer to our competitors at the start of ´09 than it was at the start of ´08. We do not have outlandish expectations and we don´t want to set goals that will disappoint us if we don´t achieve them. But we do have a target to be a lot more competitive at the first race this season than we were a year ago.´

MotoGP, 2008, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP

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