Suzuki believes the key to a competitive 2010 MotoGP season is not a specific performance gain, but getting the GSV-R to stay near the limit for longer.

For the first time since 2004, Suzuki finished last season without a single MotoGP podium to its credit.

But this was the same team that left the Sepang pre-season test with Loris Capirossi in third place, just 0.219sec behind Casey Stoner and a mere 0.125sec behind eventual world champion Valentino Rossi.

So what happened?

"The bike didn't work elsewhere anywhere near as well as it did here at Sepang in winter testing," replied Suzuki team manager Paul Denning, speaking exclusively to Crash.net on the eve of the second 2010 MotoGP test.

"We had inconsistency of performance which meant the bike didn't work at every racetrack and condition. Last season didn't work out anything like as positive as we had hoped, but when the bike did work well it wasn't so far away - Loris was able to run in the top five and challenge the front group of guys at times."

Denning then identified what needs to change.

"The target is not necessarily to have more horsepower or any particular improvement in one specific area," he explained. "It is to make the bike more consistent, to work well in all conditions, so that the riders can feel confident and ride to the best of their abilities."

That being the case, the Englishman was asked if he agreed with the following concept. That, in basic terms, a successful racing machine needs to balance two main attributes:
1. The highest possible maximum performance.
2. The ability to stay as close to that maximum for as long as possible.

"Absolutely. And I think user-friendliness is the key [part] for us," he replied. "We need to keep an acceptable level of maximum performance, but still have a machine that the riders can use at close to 100 percent for 100 percent of the race distance."

So what percent of the maximum performance were Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen getting from the GSV-R last year?

"Well it depends. At Mugello, Loris was three seconds off the win and normally that would be enough to stand on the podium. He was probably able to ride at nearly 100 percent during that race and maybe at one or two others," said Denning.

"I wouldn't like to give a percent [for the other tracks] but when you have to ride around fundamental problems your performance is automatically going to suffer. Overall tyre feedback and contact-patch feel, both at the front and rear, is something we need to improve.

"We need a bike that allows a rider to concentrate only on riding. If we can do that we will have a much more competitive machine."

At the first Sepang test earlier this month, Suzuki worked exclusively on non-engine developments to try and cure the grip inconsistency it experienced last season.

A new engine will now lead the list of upgrades for Capirossi and new signing Alvaro Bautista to test at Sepang on Thursday and Friday, when further chassis developments will also be available.

"There will be some more chassis testing here, there's a complete new rear swingarm design - that looks very interesting - for both guys to try," revealed Denning. "But yes, the concentration and the priority for these two days is more engine based, both in terms of performance and durability.

"This particular [engine] specification has only been used in Japan by Nobu [Aoki, test rider]. We're not expecting a night-and-day difference in terms of performance. We're expecting a small improvement in overall performance with the confidence that it will also be able to do three grands prix distances.

"I guess all the manufacturers are trying to find the right balance between performance and durability for their engines and Suzuki is no different. We needed to find a bit more than some of the others and it's not an easy task to get the performance level where it needs to be with the restrictions on both testing and the number of engines you can use.

"But the rules are the same for everyone and Suzuki is pushing really hard to do the best it can."

Capirossi finished ninth in the 2009 world championship with a best race finish of fifth (four times). Vermeulen was twelfth, also with a best race finish of fifth (once).

Suzuki's most recent 500cc/MotoGP title victory was with Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000. Since the start of the four-stroke era, in 2002, Suzuki has taken just one race win, with Vermeulen in 2007.