Former Suzuki MotoGP team boss Paul Denning has heard positive comments about the factory's new grand prix machine, which will make its public debut in Monday's Barcelona test.
However Denning warns that the task of running with Honda and Yamaha at the front of the MotoGP field remains a “big, big ask.”
Suzuki will make a welcome return to the grand prix paddock when they unveil their new 1000cc prototype, believed to feature an inline four-cylinder engine, with Randy de Puniet on board at Monday's official test at the Montmeló circuit.
Denning was involved in running the factory team from 2005 to the close of 2011, when Suzuki withdrew from MotoGP citing the financial crisis.
Although Denning is now working in the World Superbike paddock - running Leon Camier and Jules Cluzel in his FIXI Crescent Suzuki team - the Englishman has also been in contact with Suzuki regarding certain aspects of the grand prix project.
“I'm not directly involved in the project at all but I've helped Suzuki with recommending certain key personnel that were with the project before and are there now,” Denning told Crash.net
at last weekend's Portimao WSBK round.
“They said the bike is beautifully put together. It's a prototype race bike [and] not a prototype of
the race bike. It really looks like the finished article, very neat, really tidy, and nice to work on.
“I don't know what the lap time was from Motegi as everyone's been very professional but there were lots of smiley faces and the bike as a starting point doesn't look so bad.”
de Puniet flew to Japan to test the prototype at Honda's Motegi circuit between the French and Italian MotoGP rounds, completing around 100 laps over two days.
Former Yamaha team manager Davide Brivio has been contracted to put the European test team together and declared Motegi “better than expected,” with the bike supposedly sporting several key design changes.
Suzuki refused to release any official times, but Honda and Yamaha test teams were also present and leaks suggested the bike was around 1.6 seconds off Dani Pedrosa's fastest lap from the 2012 Japanese race in October.
Denning feels there has been ample preparation time to allow Suzuki to be competitive - should a 2014 return be confirmed - but continues to exercise caution over its ability to challenge the premier class front-runners.
“It's been two years out so they should be able to. But there is a big difference between testing and racing and obviously having a nice bike that works well is not impossible to achieve.
“However, obviously that is difficult and the target of running with Honda and Yamaha at the front of races is a big, big ask. It's never easy and it will continue not to be easy but I really hope that the bike hits the sweet spot straight away and goes well.”
After Monday's official test session Suzuki are planning to test the machine for two further days at the Motorland Aragon circuit.CLICK HERE
to read the full interview with Denning, in which he also discusses proposed changes to the World Superbike Championship.By Neil Morrison