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GP Week : Issue 178
MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS SUZUKI COME-BACK: PUBLIC TESTING BUT NO RACES PLANNED De Puniet to join test team Suzuki’s planned come-back for 2014 is still under way, with news that the test team will be joining in at least two official MotoGP tests this season – even though there is neither official management approval nor any places reserved on the grid for the third Japanese manufacturer. Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta has confirmed that if Suzuki wants to return, the factory will have to do a deal with one of the existing teams – the prosperous Spanish Aspar team run by Jorge Martinez, currently fielding two CRT bikes, is the prime candidate, Aspar’s links with the factory are reinforced by the fact that the team has agreed to allowing de Puniet to join the factory test squad, in addition to his duties on the Power Electronics ART. The test team is led by former Suzuki GP rider Nobuatsu Aoki, who told Britain’s Motor Cycle News that a new version of the proposed MotoGP bike – thought to be an in-line four – had been released earlier this year, and that it was highly promising. Tests up against the current MotoGP machines were planned for the post-race sessions at Catalunya (if ready), Misano and Valencia, with two other private tests on the card. Suzuki withdrew from MotoGP at the end of 2012, citing the financial fall-out after the Fukushima disaster. The company had already angered Dorna by dropping its team effort from two riders to one. DUCATI UPDATES EXPECTED FOR JEREZ TESTS Ducati has promised its beleaguered riders some relief, with upgrades for the final test session before the start of the MotoGP season, to be held over three days at Jerez next weekend. The Audi-owned Italian company declined to join the other factory teams at special tests at Austen last week, partly on the grounds of expense, but also because team manager Bernhard Gobmeier felt that sticking to the planned development programme was more important. Going to the tests, Gobmeier said, would possibly gain two tenths of a second ... “but we are not only two tenths behind” . The gap at the final Sepang test was less than 1.4 seconds to the leader, compared with more than two at the first Malaysian test ... and more significantly both Ducati riders had managed to improve their times on a track that was generally a little slower than previously. “It is clear that we still have a lot of work to do, but we left there feeling a little bit more positive with some of the new things that we tested,” said Hayden. Weight distribution was improved by moving the fuel tank under the seat, and there was some electronic fine tuning to throttle response. “We kind of hit on a couple things, so it was nice to find direction. If I am honest, the flight home after the first test was pretty rough,” he said. If the team can take at least a similar step for ward at Jerez, the bikes will be at least closer. More importantly, confidence will be boosted, after two years of growing gloom. 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: