Loris Capirossi will be aiming to impress as he returns home for the Italian GP at Mugello this weekend.
The MotoGP veteran qualified on the front row on his Mugello Suzuki debut last year, but slipped back to seventh in the race, something he is planning to put right in '09 as he goes in search of the team's first podium of the season.
"Mugello is always a special place for me and I was not happy with last year's result so I am planning to put things right this time around,” said Loris. “I managed a seventh after starting on the front row and I struggled a bit in the race.”
The 2009 GSV-R looked to be much more competitive than its predecessor, but after four rounds Capirossi has scored 27 points, for ninth in the championship, compared with 33 points and fifth in the championship after the first four rounds of last year. Capirossi failed to finish the 2009 season opener in Qatar.
“This year's GSV-R is certainly better than the 2008 bike and I really believe if we can get the set-up right and have a couple of good day's testing we can be pushing at the front,” he insisted.
“We need to work out why we don't seem able to get the most from the tyres at the moment; our competitors certainly seem to be getting a lot more out of their rubber, so it is something we really have to focus on and keep pushing to the maximum."
Capirossi is the only rider on the MotoGP grid other than Valentino Rossi to have won the premier-class race at Mugello, with victory on a 500cc Honda in 2000.
Meanwhile, team-mate Chris Vermeulen has enjoyed a more fruitful start to the 2009 season, claiming 31 points and eighth in the championship compared with just 14 points and 14th at the same time last year (due to two non-scores).
Vermeulen was boxed in on the first corner at Mugello last season and found himself 17th at the end of the first lap, but fought his way through the field to finish tenth.
"The result at Le Mans last time out was a bit better, but it is still not what we are looking for,” said the Australian, sixth at the French GP. “We need to keep working hard and try to get the full potential from the GSV-R. I really enjoy racing in Mugello - it is such a unique atmosphere and the track is amazing It's always a tough race in Mugello but we will be doing all we can to keep improving and we'll certainly be aiming for our best result of the season so far."
In overall terms, Suzuki has scored four points more than at the same time last year, but is fifth and last in the manufacturers' standings compared with fourth after four rounds of last season.
Suzuki has been demoted by Kawasaki, which has scored 17 points more than last year thanks to the single handed heroics of Marco Melandri.