Suzuki: No plans for front ride-height device, want top speed discussion

Suzuki has no plans to follow Ducati's lead and introduce a front ride-height system for MotoGP this season, but 'know how to do it'.
Joan Mir , Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February 2022
Joan Mir , Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February 2022
© Gold and Goose Photography

Suzuki's MotoGP project leader and team manager Shinichi Sahara says the factory currently has no plans to introduce a front ride-height system on the GSX-RR.

Analysis of front fork position during last week's Sepang test showed that Ducati, which developed the original rear holeshot/ride height system, is now also able to lower the front of its bike on corner exit.

That lowers the centre of gravity even further, aiding acceleration and top speed through improved anti-wheelie.

As with the introduction of wings and the swingarm 'tyre cooler', Ducati's MotoGP rivals have already been forced to play catch-up by developing a rear holeshot/ride-height device of their own.

Suzuki faced criticism for being the last to debut a rear ride-height device, after last year's summer break, but Sahara insists they currently have no plans to introduce the front system.

"Our [front] system currently works only for the start. So during the race or the run on track, that system doesn't work for us," Sahara confirmed. "We understand how to make the system, we also know the method to develop it, but we are not really thinking to use this system at least for this year."

Suzuki: No plans for front ride-height device, want top speed discussion

Sahara admitted Suzuki will be forced to develop the system if "it becomes common technology", but added his voice to those who have doubts about ride-height devices in terms of their contribution to ever-increasing top speeds.

"I know some manufacturers are trying to use this during their running, on the front. Okay, if it becomes common technology to be competitive, okay we have to try this and have to use this," he said.

"But this [would] force us to have more extra budget, to develop it. Also I don’t know if this is a good way for us to have more speed on the straight, in terms of safety. So actually we have to discuss about this very carefully, I think."

Meanwhile, Suzuki heads into this weekend's final pre-season test at Mandalika having made 'significant improvements' to its GSX-RR, following a winless 2021 title defence for Joan Mir and just one podium for team-mate Alex Rins.

"I'm feeling very positive from the result of the Sepang test because we saw some significant improvements from last year's spec to this year's spec," Sahara said. "But we know it's too early to be happy before the real racing starts.

"Anyway, we saw the significant improvement on the bike, especially on its engine, horsepower. Also some new items for the chassis.

"So there are two points I'm feeling positive about. One is some significant improvements. Another one is we confirmed the direction of development was correct, and also still we are on the way to develop further items."

Sahara confirmed that Suzuki takes a more 'conservative' approach to bike development, compared to factories like Ducati and Honda.

"Our style of development is something like conservative, to try to improve some areas, maybe acceleration or braking, without losing any of our strong points. This is our style, to enhance competitiveness. So I hope it works to be competitive enough against our rivals [this year]. We will see."

One area where Suzuki can improve is qualifying, with Mir and Rins frequently forced to fight their way through the field.

"We started to try some new strategy for the qualifying in a few races last year, Portimao and Valencia. It seemed to work so-so," Sahara said. "Then especially Joan got a front row I remember. It was not very simple. Maybe many factors related to each other and we have to think about many things from the bike points of view and rider technique point of view.

"One little thing is in the past we lost the chance to make a good lap time due to sometimes a slow rider in front. To avoid this we have to be on the track as early as possible. This is a very simple thing but it works sometimes very well.

"I cannot tell the details about the bike, but we have some ideas… You will see how our new strategy or our bike can work in qualifying this year."

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