Aleix Espargaro is “curious” to see the level of the Suzuki GSX-RR with the new electronics package and believes he and team-mate Maverick Viñales can be closer to the Factory Hondas and Yamahas in 2016.
Neither Suzuki rider sampled the spec Magneti Marelli electronics in the two-day test at Valencia, instead using the shakedown to get a feel for the different characteristics of the new Michelin rubber.
Nevertheless, Espargaro was content to read Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi's comments on the new rider aids on Tuesday, believing his crew and technicians' experience with Magneti Marelli equipment could aid Suzuki's quest to circulate towards the front in 2016.
“[When we read Marquez's comments] We were happy. Our engineers and Magneti Marelli guys told us the electronics is basically very similar to the electronics we were riding this year. So I think we have to be positive.
“We managed to be quite competitive with these electronics through the season and now they realise that their electronics were much better than what they will have next year. We will use them in Malaysia. The test team was using these electronics so I'm curious [about 2016]. I think we can be close.”
While the Catalan duo has to wait until the end of November to test the '16 electronics package at a private test in Sepang, changes in bike balance through the two days in Valencia brought him closer to the fastest time of the test.
“Well it was not that bad,” he said on Wednesday evening. “I'm happy with the improvement we did because yesterday I struggle a lot, this morning as well. So in the afternoon, around midday we find a direction. We change a lot the bike and immediately I feel great.
“The pace was immediately good with used tyres and with a new tyre we did a good lap. It's just the first day with the Michelins but I think the bike works really good with these tyres. They suit the Suzuki really good. I think it's good to be that close to the Hondas.
“We changed quite a lot of things. The pivot for example. The length of the swingarm and a different swingarm. We changed a lot the bike quite a lot. At the beginning it was quite hard to understand but immediately we were able to do a lot of laps in the 1m 31s which is great.”
Espargaro ended day one in ninth, but found pace and consistency a day later, finishing the second with the fourth fastest time, 0.152s off Marquez's best lap.
Like Viñales and many others , Espargaro found the new front-end feeling with Michelin tyres gave no warning before tucking when the brake is released, something the two-time CRT champion experienced when he crashed twice on Tuesday, then once again on Wednesday.
“When you push a lot the front tyre it means in the hard braking you feel the tyre squash. You have a lot of grip. As soon as you release the front brake the tyre becomes in an unnatural position and you lose the front.
“It's exactly the same in the fast corners. In the fast corners you cannot push so much the tyre because you don't use so much the front brake. You have no feedback and you lose the front. Michelin knows. I think we can also improve a little bit the bike and try to move more weight. They have to change the character of the bike a little bit.”