Suzuki's press release previewing this week's Sepang test made no mention of title sponsor Rizla, which has backed the factory MotoGP team since 2006.
That doesn't necessarily mean Rizla's name will not be on the GSV-Rs by the first race of 2009 - Suzuki usually publically thanks major departing sponsors rather than simply brushing them under the carpet - but it does confirm that no new agreement has yet been reached.
But Suzuki's 2009 grand prix project, being bankrolled almost exclusively by the factory, will continue with or without Rizla and Sepang will provide the first opportunity for Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi to compare their 'highly-modified' '09 machine against a full line-up of rivals.
"I am really eager to get back on the track again; it feels like it's been so long since I was on a bike that I might have forgotten how to ride it!” joked Vermeulen, heading into his fourth season with Suzuki. “It's been a couple of months since the last test but that has been two months when Suzuki has been working really hard to make the 2009 GSV-R as good as it can be at this moment in time. It will be great to ride this year's bike and see the improvements and alterations the Factory has made to last year's bike. All the other teams will be there so we will be able to see where we are at the moment in comparison to them and how we have moved on since the last time we were at Sepang."
Grand prix veteran Capirossi made his Suzuki debut in 2008, and is excited about the season ahead.
"I am ready for this test and I'm really looking forward to getting on the bike again,” said the Italian, who took one podium finish last season. “I've worked very hard through the winter with my trainer and feel as fit as I have ever been. I am now 100% and planning to put that to good use as soon as I get on the bike. I'm very excited to see what the guys back in Japan have done to the GSV-R and for Chris and me to get the chance to ride the latest version of the bike at Sepang. I am sure that all the recommendations we made during the last tests will have been analysed and any improvements the Factory could make they will have done in the winter."
The three-day Sepang test gets underway on Thursday with the first race of the 2009 MotoGP season scheduled at Losail in Qatar on Sunday April 12th.