"Phillip Island suits our bike so we have high hopes here"

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR head towards Round 17 of this year’s MotoGP Championship still feeling fresh from Alex Rins’ podium and the strong pace of Andrea Iannone just a few days earlier. This weekend, Phillip Island in Australia will offer a new set of challenges but it’s one that the team and their GSX-RR feels ready to take on. Iannone’s Crew Chief, Marco Rigamonti explains why…

Were always happy to arrive here, especially as we have good memories from last year where we got some of our best dry results. We expect to be very competitive because this track suits our bike and our riders. Weve got high hopes.” 

Indeed, this supremely popular track off the Southern coast of Australia has proved to be a hit with the team, and both riders enjoy the feel and flow of this circuit which has been a fixture for more than 20 years. The fact that Phillip Island has the highest average speed on the calendar is one of the key elements which plays into the Hamamatsu factory’s hands.

“Basically our bike is great at carrying corner speed in fast corners. And we tend to struggle in slow corners, so the high average speed means this is pretty much always a good circuit for our GSX-RR.”

Our bike is great at carrying corner speed in fast corners so the high average speed means this is pretty much always a good circuit for our GSX-RR

However, the pay off to carrying such high corner speeds means that bike stability must become a focus for the mechanics this weekend, as ‘Riga’ tell us…

The bike needs to be very stable in these fast corners, so this is one thing that well focus on to make sure we keep our strength in that area. But generally when weve been to Phillip Island the riders almost immediately have a good feeling with the bike. So obviously we hope it will be the same situation this year.

But perhaps the most unexpected set-up challenge is brought about by the weather, which this Aussie track is fairly famous for! Anything from sun and warmth, to cold mornings and heavy rain, the team need to stay on their toes and ready to react fast.

“The weather is changeable, but we know that it’s almost always windy at Phillip Island - it’s either blowing down the main straight from the front or coming from behind. Sometimes you can arrive 10km per hour faster at the end of the straight, depending on the wind direction, so you have to keep this in mind when setting up the bike and the gearing, to make sure you don’t hit the limiter in 6th gear, as this is something that can happen! At this time of year, the weather can be really good but also really terrible. We have to be ready for whatever comes.”

Because of the wind, sometimes you can arrive 10 km/h faster at the end of the straight, depending on the wind direction. So it is crucial to bear in mind this when setting up the bike and the gearing

Despite tyres being a regular focus in recent years, Marco is confident that it’s one area the team won’t need to worry about too much in 2018. 

“We usually have to use hard tyres and I think Michelin will bring similar tyres to last year, because in 2017 they worked quite well. So we expect that we won’t struggle with the tyres too much. We’re really looking forward to getting out on track, checking the feeling, and giving all for another good weekend.”

Will Team SUZUKI ECSTAR be able to bag another top result this weekend? Follow us from Friday 26th October to find out!