Chris Vermeulen believes the new Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP machine is 'consistently faster' than the underperforming 2008 version, leaving him encouraged for the season ahead.
Suzuki was the biggest surprise of the recent Sepang test, when Loris Capirossi posted a top three lap time over all three days - plus a race simulation around 18sec faster than he had managed on his way to seventh in October's Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vermeulen backed up the experienced Italian's performance with fourth, fifth and sixth places over the three days and a final lap time 0.623sec behind pace setter Casey Stoner (Ducati) and 0.404sec from Capirossi.
“During the time off Suzuki has been working hard, they brought new chassis, aerodynamics, electronics, engine - a lot of stuff,” Vermeulen told Crash.net
. “Not everything has been an improvement but the bike is a lot better, we're going consistently faster and we've definitely moved forward at this track.
“A lot of our information came from the Phillip Island test [in November], which is a track we've really struggled at. So to have things work here as well is a good sign for us for the whole season.”
Like Capirossi, Vermeulen also completed a long run on the final day, albeit 15 laps compared with 19 for Capirossi.
The former World Supersport champion set an average lap time of 2min 2.644sec during that run, which compares with an average of 2min 3.865sec during 20 laps at the grand prix (excluding the first lap due to the standing start) which Vermeulen finished in ninth place.
Capirossi's average lap during his long run was a 2min 2.605sec, indicating that the two Suzuki riders are closer than it might appear from the test ranking.
Team manager Paul Denning recently told Crash.net
that Suzuki's V4 engine had made just as much progress as the rest of the bike, but conceded that “a little more top power and top speed” is the main area of additional improvement.
“Chassis wise and electronic wise we've definitely made a step, but we still need to work on the engine,” said Chris, the only Suzuki rider to win a race on the GSV-R, courtesy of his wet weather victory at the 2007 French Grand Prix.