As a more-than-productive off-season draws to a close, Suzuki is not 'very', but 'reasonably confident' its fully seamless gearbox will be ready to race at the first MotoGP round of 2016 in Qatar.
Factory team manager Davide Brivio believes the transmission, that boasts both seamless up and downshifts, is a substantial improvement on the model riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro had used in tests at the beginning of the year.
But such is the delicate nature of the component, Suzuki has been running extensive reliability tests with its test rider Takuya Tsuda to ensure it can be relied upon before race day use.
Both full-time riders were using the factory's first spec of seamless – that only had seamless upshifts – throughout tests in Sepang and Phillip Island, before Espargaro sampled it for the first time on the second day at Qatar.
At that point he commented that there was still work to do with the 'seamless type ii', as it didn't replicate the smooth nature of its predecessor. A day later though and he felt the gearbox was improved. Likewise, Viñales labeled it 'another big improvement' having tested it on the final day.
Speaking to Crash.net
during the second day of testing at Qatar, Brivio explained the process in ensuring Suzuki was as prepared as possible to use this component at the first race of the year.
“We spent quite a long time to prepare the first seamless, and then we had some delay because it was expected during the season that we had some delay,” said the Italian. “It was ready by the last races of the season, but we didn't want to introduce for only a few races at the end of the championship. So we decided to delay at the winter testing.
“But in the meantime also the new seamless started to be developed. So then we ended up with them both ready more or less at the same time - not at the same time but with short distance. Then simply we think that the new seamless is better and we are making all effort to try to introduce it by the first race.
“And yes, of course it's a delicate component, and you need to make a lot of durability tests, first at the dyno bench which we have concluded, we have done, and then on the track. That's why Tsuda, our test rider, came to Australia to work on the seamless. He came here to do an extra day again on a seamless, and now we are about to start testing with our factory riders.
“As I say, still it's not sure but if everything's okay, they are happy and we have no trouble, we will then introduce it. But it is one of the delicate areas. Like wheels, brakes, gearbox… They are very delicate area, very important area, where you're always very conscious before to introduce new items.”
Asked if he was confident it would be ready for the first race, he clarified, “Not very confident, but yes, reasonably confident!”