By Neil Morrison

An exclusive interview with FIXI Crescent Suzuki team boss Paul Denning, regarding the proposed regulation changes for the World Superbike championship and Suzuki's planned return to MotoGP next season.

Denning ran the Suzuki MotoGP team from 2005 until the factory's withdraw at the end of 2011...

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What is your take on the FIM's proposed rule changes for the World Superbike class over the next three years?

Paul Denning:
Well the general idea is to decrease technical cost but they have a very difficult job to do that and to keep the manufacturer factory teams here happy.

The manufacturers that aren't in MotoGP; Aprilia, BMW, Kawasaki all have factory teams here and use this championship for R&D and technical development. So to keep them involved there needs to be a certain amount of technical flexibility, particularly on the electronic development side.
Do you foresee these developments having a positive impact on the "not factory" teams in this class?

Paul Denning:
As effectively a private team, but supported by Suzuki, I don't think the regulation changes will make any difference. Not in terms of operational cost or performance potential.

The only thing that might help us a little is the restriction in terms of engine durability. If each rider is restricted to eight engines it might help us as our performance can stay the same and maybe, who knows, the others will have to develop a bit more durability to stay at the same performance level.
Many have spoken about the need to control the development of electronics in the class. Do you feel a cap on this area or the introduction of a standard ECU would benefit the lesser-funded teams?

Paul Denning:
It would absolutely benefit and it would be the biggest equaliser of performance but it absolutely won't happen. That's the biggest area in which the manufacturers wish to retain development capability. So as it sits today, at least in the short term, that won't happen.
Although you are currently working in the World Superbike paddock, what have you heard from Japan in regards to Suzuki's upcoming return to MotoGP?

Paul Denning:
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.

They said the bike is beautifully put together. It's a prototype race bike, but 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.
With the technical know-how behind them can they hit the ground running when they get back into the series?

Paul Denning:
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.

But obviously it's difficult to achieve 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.