Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli will use his wildcard appearance at the Japanese Grand Prix to sample a part (or parts) for the 2019 GSX-RR MotoGP machine, according to Alex Rins.

The 2014 World Superbike Champion makes his third premier class appearance of the year at Motegi, a track where he scored his best MotoGP result (fourth place), back in 2007 when riding for Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3.

And Rins revealed Suzuki’s preparations for next year are well underway, with Guintoli tasked with assessing a suitable piece (or pieces) in racing conditions that could well find their way onto next year’s bike.

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Rins also said he and team-mate Andrea Iannone would continue with the package that helped him to three straight top six performances in the flyaway races.

“Now he’s testing the bike for the next year,” said Rins in the pre-event press conference of Guintoli. “We need to see what he’s trying for next year. For sure they are working a little bit on all the bike. But there is nothing [for me] to try for these next races.”

A spokesperson for Suzuki clarified Guintoli would not be riding “the bike for next year.” Rather, “some new thing” for 2019, which they could not specify.

On his first MotoGP outing since Brno in early August, Guintoli said, “It’s great to be back on the MotoGP grid in Motegi. I have some good memories from this track where I had my best MotoGP result. The testing and development programme is going very well so I’m keen to keep on pushing and to enjoy riding my GSX-RR.”

Motegi has been a happy hunting ground for Suzuki in recent years, with ex-riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro finishing third and fourth here in 2016, before Iannone and Rins turning the factory's fortunes around a year ago, courtesy of fine riders to fourth and fifth in the rain.

“About this track, I think it’s a nice track,” said Rins of the stop-start 2.9-mile track. “Last year we finished in the top five so we arrive with a lot of confidence after doing a good job at the last races.

“But anyway I think we need to push from the beginning. We still need to improve a bit the qualifying lap to start more toward the front. But the races have been good, no? So I think here for Suzuki we need to do a great job.”

Team manager Davide Brivio described his team’s recent run of form, which has seen Suzuki lose its concessions as a consequence of Iannone’s podium at Aragon, as a “positive moment.”

“It’s very nice to go to Motegi because we will get the warmth of many Japanese fans and the support of our many engineers and colleagues from the Factory,” he said. “We arrive here during quite a positive moment; we’ve lost the concessions, we got five podiums, and in the latest races we’ve been consistently in the top six with fierce battles near the front.

“This makes me hope that with further improvements we can get even closer to the top. In Japan we will also benefit from having Sylvain Guintoli, who will race as a wildcard. We will try our best to make all our Japanese supporters, colleagues, and management happy with a good weekend.”

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