Suzuki is quietly confident following its first full test session on the new factory four-stroke XRE0 machine on Saturday (January 19th).

Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr and Sete Gibernau joined Japanese factory test riders Akira Ryo and Yukio Kagayama at the Suzuki factory test rack at Ryuyo in Japan for a full day of testing, aimed at introducing the riders to the new machine and establishing basic settings before moving on to a series of private tests in Asia and Australia.

Roberts and Gibernau were given a pre-test briefing with the factory race department management before getting to grips with the new 990cc,V4 four-stroke racer which insiders say is developing well over 200bhp.

Gibernau was first out on the new machine that is currently running in unpainted black bodywork and he was quickly on the pace round the 6.5km test circuit. A clearly determined Gibernau said; "Obviously you can't forget that this is a brand new bike, but my first impressions are very positive. We obviously started later on our four-stroke project compared to the other factories and we are going to have to work hard to get on the pace. But I've never been scared of hard work and Kenny and I have to work harder and closer than ever if we are to improve.

"The chassis is good, the engine is good, the tyres, suspension and brakes are all good. We just have to concentrate on matching everything up and making the whole thing work. The team has the potential to do the job and we are all looking in the same direction."

Roberts was also happy with the early shakedown; "Certainly at this early stage of the development Suzuki has done an incredible job with the design and concept of the whole motorcycle. The first time I saw the machine yesterday I was very impressed how tidy and complete it is at such an early stage in its development. After this initial ride I am really encouraged with how smooth and linear the power delivery is. It was difficult to tell any real physical difference between the XRE0 and the RGV in riding position at this test.

"It's clear that at this very early stage Suzuki is determined to improve the whole motorcycle as rapidly as they possible can, and with a tyre company like Dunlop giving Suzuki their full commitment it seems we are on the right track. We all seem to understand the big strides we have to make to be competitive, but the team and Suzuki are highly positive and that makes a lot of difference."
Gibernau's crew chief Start Shenton was clearly impressed by the new machine. "The design team has done a brilliant job and has clearly come a huge distance in a very short space of time. Everything fits real well," he said.

Bob Toomey, Roberts' crew chief was also full of praise. "The factory put their best men on the job and it shows in every area. It's early days yet and we have a heavy test schedule ahead of us, but the basic ingredients are all there and I think we will be right in there with a competitive machine."

The team's technical advisor Warren Willing echoed the opinions of the two crew chiefs. "It looks like a good starting point. We've now got to concentrate on obtaining meaningful data and developing basic set-ups. It's great for the whole team to have the challenge of developing a brand-new machine and the factory have obviously put their best resources behind the project."


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