Suzuki COTA MotoGP Test Recap
Only three races into the 2016 MotoGP season and it’s been full of surprises but Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró have been creating quite a buzz. These two riders, along with the Suzuki GSX-RR, have been something that we’ve been keeping a close eye on.
Suzuki returned to MotoGP in 2015 after a three-year hiatus from the premier road racing series. The season saw a commendable return with Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró finishing eighth and 10th overall, respectively.
This year, the riders and the Suzuki GSX-RR are even stronger. Since the season opener in Qatar, we’ve seen the Suzukis pushing further in the ranks. In COTA, the two kept fans cheering as they battled for fourth and fifth position.
Following 2016 Austin MotoGP, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Viñales and Espargaró didn’t pack up and return to Europe like most riders; instead they hung around at Circuit of The Americas for a single day of testing.
While the first three races of the season have provided valuable information, Suzuki managers have been placed quite a bit of effort to get the bike into podium contention – from what we can see, whatever they’ve been doing is working out. In Argentina, Maverick Vinales was poised to make that happen before low siding on a damp patch in the track.
But the purpose of this round of testing at COTA was to focus on the 2016 chassis, set-up options and lastly, dialing in one of the biggest variables for the 2016 MotoGP season – the new spec electronics.
Weather got the best of them and restricted track time, but both Viñales and Espargaró managed to collect valuable data by the end of the day for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. The big question is, why not? Well, after three races, which were successful in their own right, it’s time to analyze those results and improve upon what they’ve built. According to Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, this is a critical stage in their development as a team.
Here is what the riders had to say before packing it all up and preparing for the European rounds.
Maverick Viñales: “Today we tried some more configurations with the 2016 chassis to compare with the one we tested in pre-season and the one I’ve been using in the first three races and we are happy to have discovered that, on this track, these new configurations could have seen a more positive result in the race. After this test, I maybe now have a little regret at my initial choice, but this is normal – all aspects have positives and negatives and you need time to go in depth with the investigations. Sometimes it takes more time, so it’s good that we made this test because we could go really in depth of these two sides of the same coin and now know better the potential of both the chassis’.
“This gives us a double option and I don’t exclude that we might decide to adopt one or the other according to the specificity of the different tracks. Basically what we are looking for is some more traction and also more effective hard braking, which again has to do with the rear grip. The modifications in set-up we have done here proved to be effective, as my lap times were pretty good, and this is something that makes me very happy. We also made some steps forward with the electronics – it’s another thing that could help us, and it’s good to see that we are continuously improving. Testing here was very important – it’s good to review the situation after three races and to see where we are, so that now we can have a clearer idea which direction to take.”
Aleix Espargaró says “It’s good that we had this opportunity to test here because we were missing some information and now we have a clearer idea of where we are. We focused mainly on the chassis, where we had some new set-ups to be tested on the 2016 version so we could compare with the configurations that we tested in the winter and also on the 2015 chassis we have been using since the Qatar race.
“We started from the set-up we used in Qatar qualifying and moved on from there. The differences between the 2015 chassis and the new configurations of the 2016 are not that big, but their strong points are different and this gives us more options to exploit when it comes to better adapt from one track to another. Today my confidence improved, as well as my lap times, and this makes me happy after the tough three races so far. I’m still working on my riding style to make it more suitable to the Michelin tyres, and also for this we tried some little variations in my position on the bike. The electronics have been another area that we tested – we still need to go deeper to understand it better and any change is good for us to learn more. It’s good that we did this test – it helped me to re-evaluate my ideas and to re-focus on our path.”
The Suzuki GSX-RR duo now breaks ahead of the first European round of 2016 MotoGP at Jerez April 21.