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Ahead of the start of the #SepangTest, Team Suzuki Ecstar had their 2018 Team Presentation in Sepang, Malaysia, with riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins on hand as their new machines were revealed. After a more difficult 2017, the team say they’ve been able to use that to their advantage in the development and evolution of the GSX-RR.
Highlights from Team Suzuki ECSTAR's 2018 launch
Brivio: "We want to bother first place as much as possible"
Team Manager Davide Brivio led proceesings, presenting their 2018 project and some of the most important figures the Hamamatsu factory's outfit. “This season will be our fourth since we came back to the premier class and we have to try our best to improve compared to last year’s performance,” says Brivio. “All the Suzuki engineers in the factory and the team members have been working relentlessly during the winter, and we hope we have found a good basis to restart in a good way. The most important thing is that we are starting again and we were able to harvest a lot of good experience from last season when we struggled so much, especially during the first three quarters of the championship. We have learnt from the difficulties and the group have stayed strong all the time despite the disappointing results. We have to understand how much our 2018 machine has improved, especially with the new engine spec., but also in terms of chassis. Let’s see if from the first test in Sepang we can note the improvements and better feelings for the riders, so we can concentrate on completing a nice season and pay back all Suzuki’s efforts”.
Shinichi Sahara, the Hamamatsu factory’s Project Leader, echoes that positivity. “Last season was not the best for Suzuki interests because of different circumstances, even though we were able to finish the year with some good results in the Top 5,” says Sahara-san. “We struggled in some areas last season, especially with the engine, but we worked really hard to overcome this issue and finally with some new adjustments we were able to concentrate on other matters, such as the chassis, to find out how to improve. It was not easy considering we were blocked by the engine regulations. Fortunately, this season is about to start and we can have a different package and we think that we will be more competitive than last year, so we are positive and confident to fight for higher objectives. Especially after the first tests we did in Valencia and Jerez in the late stage of 2017.”
For the riders, too, the winter has been time to reset and reload – with both eager to get back on track and back to work. Just ahead of the team's livery for the new season being revealed, the two men took to the stage.
“I’m eager to restart after a long winter break without riding my GSX-RR,” says Andrea Iannone, who is equally optimistic ahead of 2018 – and aiming high. “This season my approach to the World Championship is a bit different to the one I had a year ago. I already have experience of working with Suzuki, I know my team really well, and honestly speaking I’m hungry to test the new bike. I think this bike suits my riding style pretty well, and I’m very motivated for the coming season. Once we identify the problems we suffered last year, and then add to that a really good technical basis we can achieve our goals, and those are to try to fight in the top five in every race. During the winter break I worked really hard not only physically but also mentally and I feel confident we can complete a fantastic season. Let’s see what is going on with all the rivals as well and what the real level is like in the first Sepang test”.
Former rookie Rins, meanwhile, is looking to start where he left off after some impressive performances over the latter part of 2017 once he was back to full fitness following some injury problems mid-season. Last year, the preseason campaign ahead of his premier class debut was similarly curtailed through injury.
“This new season is about to start and for me it is completely different to what I experienced last year,” says Rins. “This time I have had a ‘normal’ winter break; I mean I was able to train hard and I feel ready to start a new season. I think this time I’m arriving in much better form than last year, and I finished last season with a very good feeling on the bike. In any case I want to keep learning. Our idea is to gain more kilometres with the new GSX-RR, continue improving my pace on a MotoGP bike, and take everything race by race. Then if we are able to complete all of this in a good way, let’s see what will happen! I’m very positive and keen to ride a MotoGP bike again.”
Now the covers are off, the team will be out on track on Sunday at Sepang International Circuit as the first Official Test gets underway from 10:00 (GMT + 8).
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