Title: Suzuki debut new fairings and look for the perfect set up for Andrea Iannone

Author: Sienna Wedes

Suzuki started off the Phillip Island test with plenty of goals to tick off and a schedule that would aim to enhance their opportunities to take on their fellow manufacturers Yamaha, Honda and Ducati. Progress is being made after starting with two brand new riders for 2017. The first test in Sepang went beyond expectation for the riders and team personnel. Phillip Island presented more issues and challenges that have required attention to detail and complete commitment on track. The test provided important data that the engineers and team personnel will study and utilise in the next test at Qatar.

Q: How was the feeling with the bike?

Andrea Iannone: The feeling with the bike is not so good. I have too many problems with the tyres. It has been very difficult to ride for me but we went back out on track and changed the setting of the bike and improved step by step. At last I am very happy because the bike is improving a lot, my feeling and the pace is improving. Everything is improving. This is a good point for us because we see the light. I think for tomorrow and the next day that we focus on the pace and also the lap times. I think now we are going to stay in the good feeling because for us this is new. Everything is good for us at the moment but sometimes you arrive to a track and at the beginning it is difficult but the positive point is that step-by-step we are improving. 

Q: Michelin brought more tyres for testing; did you try those or stick with old ones?

Andrea Iannone: In 2016 I did not ride here at Phillip Island due to injury. For us it is better we understand this tyre and for the rest of the test we focus on the other tyres. At the moment we want to focus on the bike and I also want to adapt more to this bike. Suzuki are preparing well. It is always a great thing when you have new tyres to check at the track.

On the other hand, Davide Brivio believes that his team must find inspiration in attacking the design side and aerodynamics of the MotoGP premier class in order to be more competitive. In 2017 the main concerns have been around winglets, aerodynamics for speed and control and how the bikes will react in different weather conditions. Suzuki has been very secretive about their bike set up and designs. No one wants to give away his or her secrets too easily although Yamaha were keen to showcase their hand whilst in Sepang. Yamaha put their fairing and internal winglets design in full view for the entire world to see whilst others wait until Qatar to debut theirs. 

Davide Brivio’s comments to the media: “The beginning of the day hasn’t been that easy for us. We struggled to find a good set-up for Andrea, making his work complicated. Then his engineers sat down in the lunch break and with clear minds they analysed step-by-step the problems and possible solutions. The team made a good job and at the end, things went better. He found a good pace and felt confident, especially the very last laps.”

However, on the other side of the garage, Alex Rins found the wind quite challenging for him along with many other riders. The wind and combination of aerodynamics have really thrown a spanner in the works for the riders and teams. In order to keep the bikes from being pushed off line, riders were adjusting day by day and it is a constant work in progress. Phillip Island has been a wonderful place to test as it pushes the riders to their limits!

Andrea Iannone’s comments to the media: “This morning was very difficult for us. The team couldn’t find the proper setting to feel confident. I struggled a lot. But then in the afternoon, we changed some settings and improved step by step. At the final stage I was happy because the machine improved, as well as the feeling of the bike and the pace. This is a very positive outcome, because it means we have the capability to overcome very hard situations and turn them into a positive.”

Alex Rins comments to the media: “The program of first day mainly focused on doing as many laps as possible to get confident with the GSX-RR on a new circuit and find good lines for a MotoGP machine and try to be consistent. Here the wind plays an important role that can affect the riding style. From a technical point of view, we just tried the new 2017 suspensions with some different settings, collecting data to work on.”

On day two, Iannone worked on his pace. There were variations in regards to his set up, electronics, and fairings. The new fairings were debuted on the GSX-RR. The priority for the team is data and to determine how the fairings react in various conditions. Regardless of the ban on external winglets, teams have become innovative in their designs with inspiration from the Yamaha MotoGP team. It appears that there has been less wheeling since the introduction of the new fairings.

Davide Brivio’s comments to the media: “We also tried this new fairing. It was the very first time on track. We only did two runs, as the purpose was only to get a first taste and collect preliminary data in order to check if it is truly effective. If this is the case, we will have quite a bit of time before Qatar to develop it further. It’s definitely too early to say if it’s race worthy or not. It will require some more in-depth testing and analysis.” 

It is clear that the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team have tips and tricks up their sleeves and do not want to get ahead of themselves. Brivio wants more track time with the fairings to come to a conclusion about their impact on performance. He wants evidence to support the use of the new fairings and allow his riders to provide as much feedback as possible to ensure their design is right where it needs to be. Alex Rins definitely looked more comfortable on the bike as we observed him around the circuit. The advantage for Rins is that he was not using winglets as he was previously in Moto2. His fresh approach and a strong mindset go hand in hand to developing the bike and his skills even further.

Alex Rins comments to the media: “Today we tried different things; some new specs of the chassis and also the new fairings. I feel comfortable. We took a big step since yesterday. Step-by-step, lap-by-lap, I can take better lines and so I can be more consistent. We could improve a lot in the third sector. We are more consistent than yesterday, we gained a lot of corner speed and I’m happy we are working in the right direction.” 

Andrea Iannone’s comments to the media:  “I still don’t have 100% control of the machine; it’s only the second test, little by little. I need to understand how to attack the track to achieve a better lap time and how to best read the GSX-RR, but I believe this will come with time, after riding longer and longer”

On the final day, Alex Rins posted a 1:29.103 and it was impressive to see this from the rookie. His confidence is growing at a steady pace with the Suzuki GSX-RR. There were high expectations of Rins coming in to 2017 and his talent is starting to show as he delivers the goods for Suzuki. In the combined times Alex finished in sixth place.

Ken Kawauchi’s comments to the media: “We tried new cowlings and they proved to have positives and negatives that will have to be analysed. We also tried different swing arms and set-ups, finding important indicators. Andrea struggled here a little more to have a good feeling about it, but soon we will be able to deliver him better settings.”

“Alex did quite a good job; very consistent in the lap-time and often into the top-10 which means he is progressing well and gives us good hopes for further improvements.”

Davide Brivio’s comments to the media: “We had a positive last day of testing with both riders, although from different perspectives. Alex managed to score a fast lap time, which is something positive, but equally important is that he consistently improved his performance throughout the entire three days and we’re satisfied by his progress.”

“Lastly, Andrea struggled today, but we have called on him to further our development work; he managed to make a long run whose data will be very helpful to our engineers.”

Qatar is the final test before the first round and all riders and teams will be eager to make further steps forward as the season debut is coming around at a rapid rate. Davide wants to see Iannone’s experience used to their advantage and this is essential if the Japanese manufacturer wants to achieve more top finishing results in 2017. It is a very exciting time for MotoGP as the development side of the sport increases and the tension between rival teams and riders develops.

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

About The Author

Sienna Wedes
PR Communications

Sienna manages all FORMULA Magazine social media platforms covering news on a daily basis with higher emphasis during MotoGP rounds. She coordinates specific interviews with race engineers and chief mechanics. Growing up in a motorsport family Sienna understands the sport and what the supporters and fans enjoy.