Crescent Suzuki World Superbike Team Principal Paul Denning reflects on the recent Jerez test with Randy de Puniet and Alex Lowes and development of the GSX-R1000.
As you will be aware, ex-MotoGP racer Randy de Puniet has joined the team for the 2015 season. Having spent the past year developing Suzuki’s 2015 return to GP competition with the all-new GSX-RR, Randy is eager to return to competitive racing and is confident of achieving his goal of becoming a consistent championship and podium challenger. While he will continue to work with the GP team testing, in advance of the introduction of Michelin MotoGP tyres for 2016, the FIM Superbike World Championship will be his priority and main focus.
The team’s recent Jerez test proved positive, despite the weather’s determination to hamper proceedings. The 2015-spec Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 is showing greater performance and consistency compared to the competition – the new regulations, as expected, have levelled the playing-field. Alex recorded the fastest lap-time of all riders on both race and qualifying tyres (1’40.9 and 1’40.7 respectively) during the dry conditions, while Randy adapted to the GSX-R1000 Superbike quickly, feeling confident and comfortable in both wet and dry-running.
The test was also the first opportunity to work with the new team structure and staff while saying farewell to Phil Marron, Carl Meakin and Scott Kennedy. Pete Jennings returns to Crescent as Alex’s Crew Chief, with two new recruits, Melvin Newnes and Andy Berzins working alongside him and Ian Campbell. Lez, Dale, Russell and Ash will continue working together on Randy’s side of the garage. Christophe Lambert is the final addition, as Data Technician to Randy; Davide Gentile continues to oversee the electronics department, working directly with Alex during race weekends with Tim Seed in a supportive role to both.
The Verwood Headquarters will also see an expansion next year with the purchase of a new bespoke facility for the race team. Situated just behind the current location, the new workshop will be solely for the WSBK race team, providing a dedicated base for engine building, engineering and bike preparation. The facility will also allow the team to create VIP invitations for clients and partners visiting the team, and provide additional opportunities for team sponsors.
The 2015 calendar has now been issued, with 14 rounds (28 races) confirmed on the schedule. Thailand is the sole new-venue addition, with Russia returning after a year’s absence and 2014’s eight main European rounds and four “flyaways” remaining at the same venues, allowing for growth and consistency in the Championship platform.
The team are hard at work in the run-up to the winter testing ban – concentrating on engine preparation, overall weight optimisation, wind tunnel testing in Italy (January) and the extensive project of transferring the electronics system to the industry-leading Magneti Marelli hardware. We will return to Southern Europe for two further tests, in Portugal and Spain, at the end of January before the freight leaves for Australia and the first race weekend of the season at Phillip Island, on February 22nd.
2015 SUZUKI GSX-S1000 NAKED BIKE
Suzuki’s forthcoming new liter-size naked bike was spied during a recent photo shoot for company promotional materials, and judging by this close-up shot, the new model’s designation will be GSX-S1000. Word had been
leaking out since last year that Suzuki had been working on a new big-bore naked bike, and utilizing the existing GSX-R1000 as a base platform was an easy assumption. This basically confirms those rumors, though a closer look reveals that the new GSX-S1000 is much more thanjust a stripped-down GSX-R with an upright handlebarand different styling.
Besides the conventional tubular handlebar and single halogen headlight, the ABS reluctor rings on both wheels (as well as the ABS logo on the front fender) are readily visible, signifying that ABS will be part of the new GSX-S1000, either as an option or standard. Having ABS sensors and infrastructure in place makes it easy to install a traction control system, and other photos show what appears to be the same handlebar-mounted control switch for TC as the 2014 V.Strom 1000 (the first Suzuki to come with TC standard), so it’s highly likely that the new GSX-S1000 will
have traction control. Suzuki has been slow tojoin the TC brigade, but our experience with the V-Strom 1000 shows that the company made sure its system was well refined before entering production.
While the swingarm looks identical to the GSX-R1000 unit, a close examination shows the frame is different. The frame spars on the new GSX-S are relatively flat, presumably for a slimmer midsection due to the different riding position; the GSX-R supersport model’s frame spars are much larger and bend outward much more for additional material and strength. It’s also highly likely that Suzuki engineers massaged the steering geometry numbers to provide additional stability due to the different riding position that puts less weight on the front end. The difference in weight distribution is also readily apparent in the larger rear brake disc that dwarfs any of the tiny GSX-R units.
It’s hard to discern much from looking at the engine externally, as although the engine case side covers are different, that has often changed through the generations without much internal modifications to show for it.
The clutch cover is smallerthan the GSX-R item, but it’s doubtful Suzuki would leave out the slipper clutch ramp system on a highperformance bike such as this. The exhaust is a 4-into-2-into-i under-engine chamber unit with a connector pipe between cylinders 2 and 4 header pipes, so there’s likely not majorchanges with the engine other than the usual “retuning for midrange”(here’s hoping it doesn’t).
At Intermot Davide Brivio addressed the amassed members of the world’s motorcycling press to officially announce Suzuki’s return to MotoGP in 2015, the blue-ribband class of motorcycle racing. After confirming that the team will wildcard at the final round at Valencia and that Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro will ride the GSX-RR machine next season, we sat down with him to discuss the project so far.
Dressed in a sharp navy suit, Davide Brivio climbed the steps to the stage at Suzuki’s world press conference at Intermot to officially announce the return to MotoGP after another year’s worth of extensive testing. Randy de Puniet, Nobuatsu Aoki and Takuya Tsuda have moved development forward with the new GSX-RR racer over the course of the season, all under the watchful eye of the new Team Manager, with de Puniet set to race the prototype machine at Valencia this season.
Brivio, who has helped orchestrate the project this year and organise the team for next season, joined Suzuki’s MotoGP effort in April 2013, but technical development of the new bike was already way underway.
“The project was very advanced from a technical point of view when I joined,” Davide Brivio explaned. “When Suzuki left MotoGP in 2011 the engineers used this time and took the opportunity to design a completely new bike on a blank sheet of paper. It’s a completely different bike with a new configuration, moving from a V4 to inline-4, and if you look it is very much more compact. If you put the old 800 next to the new 1000cc bike, the 1000cc bike is much smaller.
“Being away from racing gave the engineers chance to redesign the bike completely and review the concept, and this would have been very difficult while racing. So from a technical point of view the bike existed in Japan before I joined the project. I first came onboard at a shakedown test in Japan in April 2013. But aside from the bike there was no team, no structure. There were engineers in the racing department at SMC [Suzuki Motor Corporation], but as far as any team structure and European representation, there was nothing.
“When Suzuki approached me about this role, I could not say no because I like this job and Suzuki has a lot of history with Grand Prix racing. I like the team organisation and putting a crew together, and when I got the call from Suzuki I could not turn it down. The fact that there was nothing organised also makes this a great challenge and opportunity for me personally, and also it is even more exciting as it is the first time Suzuki’s Grand Prix team will be run out of the factory, rather than employing an external team. This is a proper factory team and we are all employees of SMC, which shows you how seriously Suzuki is taking its return to MotoGP. It is an important step.
“We now have a workshop in Italy and we are based out of Suzuki Italia, which is owned by SMC, and they give us all the support through there. When we started this project we had to organise everything from the workshop, technicians and even tools.”
After putting a team together, Brivio’s role was to head up the testing, making sure each test ran according to plan, making sure goals and targets were achieved, and then making sure feedback was given to the engineers in Japan to focus development on new components.
“New components come from the team in Japan, and it is our job to try them, to test them and evaluate them, and give our feedback to find the best direction to move forward with. We make a plan together and we set up targets and work out what we want to achieve. For example at the planned test in Aragon after the MotoGP round there, we were comparing two different chassis.
“We are on our second stage of chassis development for this year so that is good, but the biggest job we have to do is with our work on the electronics. We are relatively new with the Magneti Marelli ECU, and so we are having to redesign our software to work with the new hardware. This job started about a year ago but it is a very big job. Our bike is a very good bike, the handling and ride-ability. The riders get off the bike and enjoy it very much. But now we have to fine tune the electronics to optimise engine performance, and this is our biggest area of focus.
“But we have been working hard all year and we will race in Valencia as a wildcard and we will hopefully have some new engine development too. We will hopefully have some other new components too so we can decide which direction to move forward when we come back next year.”
Testing throughout 2014 has been well documented and publicised, with the team running a number of tests at a circuits immediately after select rounds this season. It is something Brivio thinks has been a positive not just for the bike’s development, but also for Suzuki too, and he is looking forward to the 2015 campaign when he and the team will field Aleix Espargaro and former Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales.
“I have to say that testing over the last two years has brought people back to talking about Suzuki. Suzuki has a history and a heritage in Grand Prix racing and it is a good thing for everybody that we are coming back. The testing has provided some good and positive PR for Suzuki and we hope to do the same when the results start coming with our new riders next year.
“That is why the riders we have chosen for next year are two riders who are full of motivation and are challengers like us. Aleix Espargaro has struggled in many private teams during his career but in the last three years has found some stability, riding in CRT class or the Open class he has consistently been the best rider in the class and his results have been good, and he was also challenging riders on factory bikes. He got the first Open class podium at Aragon and has been performing really well. It is exciting for him because he has never ridden for a factory team or been on a factory bike. And because our other rider is a young rookie it will be Aleix’s job to help guide our development, so it is a big opportunity for him.
“On the other side of the garage will be Viñales who is a young kid and was Moto3 champion. He will spend one year in Moto2 then make the jump to MotoGP. I think he is full of talent and he’s a guy that every year has won some races. Since his first year in 125s, where he won four races, he has always won races. This is his first year in Moto2 and again he has won races. I think he is a great talent to get on Suzuki so it will be our job to give him a good bike and extend the relationship as long as possible to try and build for the future. We want to make both riders capable of being Suzuki champions.
“Aleix is 25 and full of experience already and is hitting is prime. So we have an expert guy, and a very talented rookie guy who will be 20 next year, so we can look at the future with excitement.
“As a team we are coming in to our rookie year next year,” Davide Brivio concludes. “But we want to get close to the top guys. We enter as challengers and so we have to understand our level and work out how to get close to the front. One year we will have to get close to the front and then for 2016 there is a big change with the spec electronic software and hardware too. So we will be developing the bike for that change too, and also developing the riders too to make the GSX-RR package the best package possible and challenge at the very front.”
Suzuki will race the prototype GSX-RR with Randy de Puniet at Valencia on 9 November, before the first test with the new riders on 10 November.
Following the unveiling of the GSX-S1000 super-naked for next year, Suzuki also pulled the wraps off a new F variant.
Using the same long-stroke architecture of the revered GSX-R1000 K5 engine, famed for it’s strong lowdown and midrange torque and power, the motor gets new internals to further improve usability and power. There’s also a new oil cooler, air cooler and exhaust system.
All this is housed in an all-new lightweight frame – lighter than the current GSX-R1000 frame – and wrapped in a newly styled fairing for added wind protection. It also comes with Renthal FatBars as standard fitment too and Brembo Monobloc calipers.
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