Loris Capirossi took the latest Suzuki chassis to seventh in wet Friday practice for the Indianapolis MotoGP round, despite a fall at the end of the hour.
The diminutive Italian usually finds his light weight to be a handicap in the wet, but felt good on the bike on the variable Indy asphalt - until he was launched overboard by a big puddle.
"It has been a quite positive day because we were able test the new chassis in the wet and the reaction was good straight away,” said Loris, who recently agreed a new Suzuki deal for 2010. “I crashed right at the end of the session when I hit a big puddle of water and high-sided, but I am ok. I felt good on the bike today and that is very encouraging. From my point of view I really want some good weather for the rest of the weekend because I don't like riding in the rain and for us it will be better to work on the bike in the dry."
Team-mate Chris Vermeulen, who will be replaced by 250cc star Alvaro Bautista next season, usually excels in the wet, but was only twelfth on Friday - three seconds behind fastest man Dani Pedrosa and 1.5sec behind Capirossi.
"We tried something different at the start, but the setting just didn't work, I came straight in to get it sorted and we lost quite a bit of time as we made the changes,” explained the Australian. “In the wettest part of the session the bike worked quite well and my lap-times in those conditions were quite good. Towards the end we made some fine-tune adjustments but I didn't get a clear lap in to improve my time. I am quite happy with the bike, but we do still have a bit of work to do to get it spot-on in the very wet conditions. I am feeling quite positive and looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow - hopefully in the dry."
As the only manufacturer without a podium finish this season, Suzuki badly needs the new parts to make a positive impact.
"After a successful test at Brno with some of the new stuff that Suzuki had introduced, it was good to be able to test them at a completely different circuit and in such different conditions today,” stated team manager Paul Denning.
“Loris has struggled to be competitive in the rain all year, but the bike was much better here and he set his best lap in the later part of the session when the conditions were less favourable. He was fortunate that he is completely ok after his high-side and his attitude is totally positive about the direction Suzuki has taken for the future.
"It is quite usual to see Chris near the front in the wet, but that wasn't quite the case today. His guys improved the bike throughout the course of the session and we're convinced that if we have to race in these conditions on Sunday he will be competitive.
“That said, the fans at Indianapolis deserve better than to sit in the rain and we hope that the sun comes out and this venue can experience MotoGP bikes being ridden to the maximum."