Team Rizla Suzuki finished its three-day test session at Almeria in Spain yesterday with riders John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama giving the new GSX-R1000 the thumbs up.

Double BSB Champion Reynolds spent the three days and 114 laps getting accustomed to the new machine as he eased back into riding a motorcycle after a lay-off since September.

Despite the time off, JR still managed to lap 1.6 seconds faster than at the same track 12-months ago, with a pace setting 1min 37.10secs effort his fastest lap.

"We were at Almeria testing the new bike, blowing out the cobwebs after the winter break and trying out a few different settings, bits and pieces," said Reynolds. "We didn't really go for a fast lap time as a goal, that wasn't our priority. We used race rubber and were always testing something on track, so to record the time I did is a bonus.

"At the end of 2002 I said the GSX-R1000 was good enough to win races. This 2003 version is better in every department and gives the team a great base to race with," he added.

New team-mate Kagayama clocked up 120 laps getting used to the bike and learning the track. Despite it being his first time at the circuit, on the bike and with his new crew, he still managed a lap time of 1min 37.20secs, just a whisker behind Reynolds.

"It was good to get on a bike again and start riding fast," smiled Kagayama. "We have much to learn about the new GSX-R1000 and I think it has a lot of potential. I was pleased to be close to John's times and think we could both have gone faster if needed. I am looking forward to the next test now as we have many things we want to try on the bike to match my riding style."

Team test rider, triple British Superbike Champion Niall Mackenzie, spent the three days of the test developing the braking system and ignition mapping. He echoed the racers thoughts and reckons the new 2003 GSX-R1000 has a stronger engine and is more agile than the 2002 machine.

The team technicians left Almeria with plenty of new information and data that will let them develop the bikes further before the next test at Valencia in Spain on March 8th.

"That was a fantastic test session for us," enthused Team manager Paul Denning, "It couldn't have gone much better. It was perfect weather for riding, although the wind on the second day made it difficult to attack lap times, but even that worked to our advantage, letting the riders and their crew's work on the electronics.

"Compared to the beginning of 2002, the bike as a whole package is better and improved in every area. The riders say the engine is more powerful, it accelerates faster and the bike is much more nimble in the turns. I expect part of that is down to the new adjustable swing arm pivot that allows the riders more scope for set-up.

"This is a good start to 2003 and the team is happy. But we know there is a lot of development left to do before the first round to make it even better. The work rate from the team will be the same, we know we have a fast bike and top riders, but now we want to make it faster and give them every chance for when the racing starts."

Team Rizla Suzuki will be testing at Valencia on March 8th - 10th before moving to the Catalunya track near Barcelona on March 12th - 13th to share the test track with Suzuki's MotoGP squad.