With the MotoGP™ championship approaching ‘crunch time’ which just a handful of rounds remaining, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Project Leader, Shinichi Sahara, gives his assessment of the season so far and the developments made in the Misano Test….
We just completed a really useful two-day test in Misano, which isn’t easy after two back-to-back race weekends, but it’s definitely worth it as we’ve learned quite a lot for the future and for this season. Alex, Joan, and Sylvain did really great work.
There are several items that we tried before and during this season, maybe the most important of all of these is the 2022 spec. engine, which we have tested again in Misano in these days. It wasn’t new for the riders to use it, as they already tried it in Qatar, but this was the first chance that we had to make a proper and in depth comparison and analysis. It seems that both Joan and Alex like it, so we need to finalise the details and continue.
Along with the engine we also worked on some chassis and set up upgrades, which we hope will give us another push. We are putting a lot of effort into every aspect of the bike – we’re always developing something for the future, whether that be for the current season, or for the further future.
We are putting a lot of effort into every aspect of the bike.
There has been a lot of talk this year about the ride-height adjuster, we’re glad to have introduced it and so far it has worked quite well for our bikes at the Red Bull Ring despite it just being a first prototype. But there are many things to improve around the system and to know how to use it as functionally as possible. So far we’ve found some advantages and disadvantages, which is normal with any new and ‘unrefined’ part. So, we are in the stage to build the positives and reduce the negatives with this device.
We are really lucky to have such a dedicated team of people helping us constantly. The process from factory to track is a long but functional one; the new items are tested on a dyno in Japan, then on track by our test riders, and then our racing riders, Joan and Alex, try them.
Like everyone, we struggled a bit with the pandemic because Sylvain wasn’t able to do as much testing as he normally would, this meant the MotoGP riders have been called to do more experimental work than usual. We also have our Japanese Test Rider, Takuya Tsuda who does a nice job of evaluating test items, and his contribution has been quite big during the Covid situation. But having Sylvain on track brings something extra because his style is closer to that of a racing rider and he joined us in Misano straight after winning the Bol d’Or.
Our challenge for the World Championship is not over yet, Joan is still in the mix mathematically and physically, I think, so we have no reason to stop fighting.
Our links with Japan are still very strong despite the difficulties of the pandemic, nowadays it’s fantastic because you can connect to your office anywhere anytime. This allows me to communicate with my staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - sometimes it is nightmare for me though with the time difference! I also have great staff and good leaders in each sector, they understand what we need to do. Anyway, I can easily keep up communication with the team at the track and in the factory, we connect like we are next door! We can share the same data with each other every day.
We’re getting closer to the end of the season, so it’s a good time to look back and assess how it’s all been going. Before the season started, I said that we would try as a challengers rather than defending champions, because we anticipated that our competitors would become stronger and it would be very close between everybody.
And the reality is that our bikes’ performance has been improved compared to last year, but our rivals have also improved a lot. I think the competitiveness of our package is still high in the races, but as you can see, qualifying has been issue for us to overcome. There’s not an easy or simple solution for that, but I feel we can do better in the coming races. Maybe this season hasn’t panned out quite as we’d hoped, but overall we’ve been competitive and we’re fairly satisfied. Our challenge for the World Championship is not over yet, Joan is still in the mix mathematically and physically, I think, so we have no reason to stop fighting.
We’re ready to go for Texas, Misano, Portugal and Valencia, let’s see what’s possible!