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MotoGP Valencia: Suzuki 20th after Saturday ‘issues’

“I don't think the performance is so bad and I can see some potential with the bike once a couple of technical issues have been solved”
Suzuki will start its first MotoGP race since 2011 from 20th on the grid, after day two at the Valencia finale provided a further reality check for the new GSX-RR.

Reliability is the main concern after a major engine failure on Friday was followed by a more discreet shutdown on Saturday. The other pressing issue is top speed, with development rider Randy de Puniet lacking around 20km/h to the fastest bikes.

Such issues are especially disappointing given the extensive testing programme the GSX-RR has gone through over the past two years.

de Puniet, 16th and 18th on Friday, was 20th and then 16th in Saturday's practice sessions, but only able to trim a few tenths from his lap time as the gap to the top grew from 1.3s to 1.6s.

The Frenchman then set his best lap of the weekend in Qualifying 1, when he was half-a-second from the final Qualifying 2 transfer place and 1.7s from Valentino Rossi's eventual pole time.

“Not so easy today,” de Puniet admitted. “We had a few more technical issues and we had to jump between the bikes and I couldn't really ride like I wanted to. I'm a bit disappointed about the position because I believed I could have done much better. It's the first race for the bike, however, and tomorrow we will try our best.

“I think I can ride low '32s tomorrow. I know I can do this and I can be consistent but we haven't been able to show this yet. I'm ready to fight with everybody tomorrow and I would love this if we can make it happen. If we keep going in the right direction then we will have no regrets.”

Team manager Davide Brivio added: “We are encountering some issues but this is a part of being in a race environment with a project that is still young! This is why we are here; to take note of the problems we might find and the gap we have to the others. We are in the process and path we need to take. It is all about shaping our winter homework.

“I don't think the performance is so bad and I can see some potential with the bike once a couple of technical issues have been solved. I think Randy is doing a good job and putting in a lot of effort despite a challenging situation. We are looking forward to the race tomorrow and I'm sure Randy will find a bit extra when he is part of the group.

“Up until now we are doing what we need to do and I think it is going OK.”

As a wild-card entry, de Puniet has three engines for the weekend - compared with just five for the season at the Factory Honda and Yamaha teams, and twelve for Ducati.

Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales will race the GSX-RR full time next season, the pair getting the first ride on the machine during next week's post-race test.

Suzuki qualified fifth for the 2011 Valencia Grand Prix, using the previous GSV-R.

Tagged as: Suzuki , Puniet

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