After being a surprise fastest during the opening day of 2009 MotoGP testing, against a full line-up of rivals at Sepang, Loris Capirossi revealed the full extent of Suzuki's winter work with the GSV-R - a bike that he says was 'terrible' just one year ago.
Capirossi led the Thursday field with a best lap time of 2min 1.869sec, placing the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP race winner 0.169sec in front of former Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner. Capirossi's team-mate Chris Vermeulen further underlined the GSV-R's impressive start to the year by setting the fourth fastest lap time.
Capirossi's best lap was also 0.38sec under the fastest race lap set by Valentino Rossi on his way to victory in last October's Malaysian Grand Prix and one second quicker than Capirossi had managed en route to seventh position.
With the effects of the global economic crises being felt throughout the premier-class grid - and Suzuki having claimed just one win since the start of the four-stroke era in 2002, a wet victory by Vermeulen at Le Mans 2007 - many might have doubted Suzuki's commitment to its grand prix project heading into 2009.
However, any fears that the factory would scale back on development appear unfounded. If anything, Suzuki seems to have increased its input and Capirossi believes they have now given him 'the bike he wants'.
“I think what Suzuki has done is great because the whole world is difficult now, with financial problems, but Suzuki has worked really hard on this bike,” praised Capirossi, speaking outside his pit garage on Thursday evening.
“In November, when we went to Japan to do wind tunnel testing, I asked for a lot of modifications to the bike - and when I got here this morning I had everything!” revealed the #65. “It's a completely new bike; smaller and lower. It has a small seat, small tank, new riding position and a different weight distribution.
“We changed the weight distribution more towards the front, changed the engine position to get more agility and moved the centre of gravity down. Since last year I've tried eight different chassis' and tomorrow [Friday] we will have two more to test. We are also working on the aerodynamic side. The new bike is not only better for me but also for Chris.
“We always had a problem with the front last year - I never had a good feeling - and we couldn't use the front tyre construction used by Stoner and Rossi until the end of the year when I had a new chassis, because it was not good for our bike. We could not get enough heat into it. This was why I said we have to change the weight distribution because in 2009 everyone will have to use that type of front tyre.