Andrea Iannone pulled himself away from his sickbed on Wednesday to assess some parts that may find their way onto Suzuki’s 2018 machine, and concluded a series of ‘small differences’ led to an improvement in the Italian’s pace.

Like young team-mate Alex Rins, the 28-year old was struck down by a virus on Tuesday, meaning no Suzukis were on track at Valencia of the first day of testing for the ’18 season.

Still nursing a fairly fragile physical condition on Wednesday, Iannone put a new Suzuki engine and chassis through their paces and posted the ninth fastest time of the day, 0.8s back of pace setter Marc Marquez.

“I try a different engine but it’s very close to the ’17 [spec]. Sincerely we confirmed the same feeling we had in Brno because in Brno we use more or less this new engine.

“We confirmed the same feeling; it’s a little bit better. It’s interesting. At the moment we have some different things but we’re waiting to put it all together in the next test and prepare the whole 2018 bike.

“The bike is very similar from 2017,” he explained. “Only a little parts, small differences in the chassis and small differences in engine. This is the Suzuki philosophy. I think the Japanese philosophy don’t change a lot. It’s always small steps, small steps, small steps and at the end it’s a big step.

“At the moment I’m very happy. Today for sure I don’t have a good energy for this test. Yesterday me and Alex remained in the motorhome and I had a big pain. But today it’s important for me to try the new things and some things we have in the garage. I’m happy because my pace is much better compared to the race.”

Iannone repeatedly complained of issues entering turns throughout 2017 as the character of the GSX-RR keeping him from pitching into the corner at speed with the front brake engaged.

The situation was often made worse when grip deteriorated on Sunday thanks to the Moto2 and Moto3 rubber laid down. And Iannone feels Suzuki’s new chassis improves most areas except this one. Corner entry will be a focus for factory technicians over the winter months.

“So the chassis improves in all areas apart from the entry,” he said. “Suzuki is a very good factory with the chassis. The bike is fantastic. It has a very good agility. It turns very well. From a straight position it reduces the speed very well. I struggle a little bit on the front position at angle. I want to improve this area.

“This area is important for the race. On Sunday compared to Saturday, on Saturday I have a very good pace but on Sunday always we have less grip on the rear and on the front. And on the rear also when we have less grip I struggle a little bit more but we don’t lose a lot on the lap time.

“But when it’s not possible to brake like in practice, I lose a lot in the lap time. And this is a bad situation for us. We don’t remain with the best riders and the best manufacturers.

“For example, at Phillip Island we stay all the race with the best riders because it’s a track without braking points; all fast corners, and we don’t brake very strong, no entry with the brake at an angle… So this is for us always better. But we’ll focus on this area and I hope we arrive ready next season with a small improvement.”

Both Iannone and Rins will be present at Jerez next week to do further comparisons between the ’17 and ’18 machines. “For sure in Jerez we start to get everything together; engine, chassis, maybe we have new forks from Ohlins. All these things and we start to compare and to try the ’17 and ’18 bikes,” he said.


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