Team Rizla Suzuki riders John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama enjoyed mixing it with the major MotoGP teams during their final day of testing at Catalunya in Spain today [Thursday].

Flying the flag for the British Superbike series, Reynolds and Kagayama were fast enough on their production based GSX-R1000 machines to threaten some of the MotoGP lap times - an astounding feat given the MotoGP machines are full prototype race machines. Kagayama clocked 1min 46.9secs using a soft rear tyre, while Reynolds lapped in 1min 47.3secs on a race tyre. Both riders recorded a new record for Team Rizla at this test as, for the first time ever, the Suzuki broke the 300kph barrier at a race track, with both riders clocked at 304kph (190mph) along the straight.

"Our bike is very good," Kagayama said, "We are not so far off the pace of the MotoGP teams, and that makes me very happy. This circuit has a long straight that favours the more powerful and lighter MotoGP bikes, so for us to come close on lap time is amazing.

"Today, I worked on refining my bike's settings and geometry and set my fastest lap towards the end. I used a soft rear tyre, just because I wanted to see how fast I could go. I maybe could have gone a bit faster again, but this is testing, not racing. I'll leave the really fast laps for the racing."

"It has been hard work, but it has been worth it," confirmed Reynolds, "Everything we are doing with the bike seems to be making progress and making us even faster. We worked through a regimented programme of tests today, looking at things like clutch, rear suspension, linkages and geometry. My fastest lap was set on race rubber and I'm happy with it. It is close to the MotoGP times, and experience has taught me that superbikes don't often get this close to the GP bikes. As a benchmark, that means we should be in a good position for the first race. Bring it on..."

Team test and development rider, triple British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie, was also at the circuit to lend a helping hand to each rider as they tried out new parts and settings, while also keeping an eye on the Harris WCM MotoGP camp following German Ralf Waldmann's decision to quit the squad.

"Everyone is happy after this test - from day one to day two we have gone a fair bit faster and we are a long way ahead of our expectations," concluded team boss Paul Denning, "To compare favourably to the MotoGP bikes of Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati and Yamaha at a long-lap circuit like this with a long straight is fantastic. It's easy to forget that our Rizla Suzuki is based on a production GSX-R1000 that you can buy out of a showroom, while the MotoGP bikes are purpose made racing machines.

"We have shared the track with the MotoGP paddock and have given a respectable account of ourselves - we don't look out of place here. Being part of this MotoGP test has been incredibly uplifting and we are all feeling upbeat.

"It's nearly time to go racing and, compared to last year, we are in a much better position. As a team, we are firing on all cylinders and looking forward to Silverstone and the first round of the Championship at the end of the month."

The session brought to an end five days of intensive test and development riding, and Team Rizla Suzuki's next outing will be at Donington Park on Sunday 23 March, when it lines up alongside its series rivals for a final pre-season test session. The British Superbike Championship starts at Silverstone on 30 March.



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