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Difficult beginnings for Suzuki - but with some positives

After falling ill at the Valencia test, Suzuki riders find track time limited – but there are some positives with development for next year

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and teammate Alex Rins had a tough start to 2018 – as those around them in the paddock headed out on track to begin the preseason, they were both struck by illness on Tuesday at Valencia. But back out on Wednesday, the two men got through as much of the programme as possible – and there were some good positives.

Riders react to the final day of testing in Valencia

“I think we improved in some areas,” affirms Iannone, “but it’s important we reconfirm it in Jerez. Put it all together to understand where we are for the package in 2018. But I’m happy, I think Suzuki have worked really well in the last part half of the season and I’m very motivated for next year.”

Rins similarly said the work they were able to do was good, and explained what they had been working on: “I didn’t do many laps, but we tried. I’m happy because it was good. We tried a new engine and a different chassis – not the 2018 engine but some parts, and it was really good.”

Team Manager Davide Brivio, meanwhile, went into more detail as to what the team had been working on, and what the plan is from here: “This was not the test we expected. We skipped Tuesday but we half-tested on Wednesday. We tried to do the best we could, we just did the top priority items and concentrated on engine and chassis. We have to delay everything until next week.”

Brivio talks about challenging Valencia test for Suzuki

By next week he is referring to Jerez, which will now be especially important for the Hamamatsu factory. “Fortunately we have another few days in Jerez, so we’ll try and use those as best we can to take the decision for next year. We have a different engine and a modified chassis, they seem to be good from what we’ve seen today but we need to be careful making decisions, and test again next week. The engine was a bit of a problem this year, because we felt that the engine wasn’t helping the bike turn. So we improved that. The chassis we’re always looking for rear grip – it looks slightly better but we can’t judge just from a few laps at Valencia in November.”

Most important, however, is the engine – with decisions needing to be taken much earlier: “The engine is more important because the decision needs to be taken in November,” explains Brivio, “in order to prepare the parts for next year. But that seems to be going well, we already tested a prototype in Aragon. We’ll put everything together, then in Sepang we’ll bring the base of the 2018 machine.”