Team Suzuki were the revelation of the recent Sepang MotoGP test, with Loris Capirossi
inside the top three on all three days - and fastest of all on day one - while team-mate Chris Vermeulen
kept both GSV-Rs within the top six.
Capirossi left Malaysia with a best lap time of 2min 1.262sec, which was just 0.219sec slower than Ducati's Casey Stoner
and only 0.125sec behind Yamaha's reigning world champion Valentino Rossi, with Vermeulen's quickest a 2min 1.666sec.
To put those times into further perspective, Capirossi's best lap in last October's Malaysian Grand Prix was a 2min 2.927sec set on his way to seventh, with Vermeulen recording a 2min 3.371sec on his way to ninth.
Significantly, Capirossi also completed a 19 lap race simulation on the final day, just two laps short of a full GP distance, with highly impressive results: Capirossi finished those 19 laps - which Denning reveals were deliberately done using the 'worst' tyre compound - in 38min 49.502sec, with an average lap time of 2min 2.605sec.
If one more average lap is added, it can then be compared with Capirossi's race time from the grand prix (after removing the first lap due to the standing start).
38min 49.502secs + 2min 2.605sec = 40min 52.107sec (20 laps)
43min 21.943sec - 2min 11.162sec = 41min 10.781sec (20 laps)
41min 10.781sec - 40min 52.107sec = 18.674sec
Naturally all bikes have improved in the three and a half months since the race, but for reference Capirossi finished 15.936sec behind winner Valentino Rossi
after 21 laps in October's grand prix.
Only two riders joined Capirossi in recording at least 19 consecutive fast laps at the test: Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards
on day two (19 laps) and Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo
on day three (20 laps). Edwards completed his 19 laps in a time of 39min 3.679sec, while Lorenzo's first 19 were done in 38min 49.932sec.
After Sepang, Crash.net
spoke to Suzuki team manager Paul Denning to find out how a tough 2008, when the GSV-R took just three podiums, had been transformed into such a promising start to 2009…
The Sepang test seemed to go very well for Suzuki. Both Loris and Chris indicated that the bike had made a big step forward in all areas, with the possible exception of the engine. Is that how you saw it?