Suzuki using 2019 MotoGP bike in Japanese GP 'massively important'

Suzuki racing an early version of its 2019 MotoGP bike in the Japanese Grand Prix was "massively important", says its test rider Sylvain Guintoli

Suzuki using 2019 MotoGP bike in Japanese GP 'massively important'

Guintoli made his third wildcard outing of the season at Motegi, using a 2019-spec engine as well as a new chassis and aerodynamic fairing.

He was classified 21st and last of the finishers.

Guintoli stressed a good result was irrelevant, but that the 2019 Suzuki appears to have "solved some of the issues" with the current GSX-RR bike.

"In terms of performance, the race was difficult," said Guintoli. "But we are working for the future and this is my job, this is what I need to do. You've got to think long-term.

"What we've achieved is gaining a lot of knowledge about the evolutions, and understanding better which direction we're going to choose for the future.

"We've got a test here [at Motegi] in early November, then another test in Jerez, and these are going to be really important to understand what will pop up next year, and how we can take it to the next level.

"It's massively important, because at the end of November, [you take] two months off, and when you come back in February [for pre-season testing and] everything has to be defined."

Suzuki goes into the 2019 season having lost its concessions as a result of its improved '18 form, taking six podiums split equally between Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone.

It can no longer change engine types mid-season, as it has in 2018.

Last year, Suzuki made an error with its engine specification that led to it failing to score a single podium finish after it had won a race in 2016 with current Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales.

When Autosport asked Guintoli if he expected to play a large role in determining the 2019 engine spec, he said: "It's part of my job to understand this.

"The engine of last year had some great positives; it just happened that it was outweighed by other things.

"My job is to understand and reduce the odds [of getting it wrong]."

Rins, who finished third at Motegi, says he has valued having Guintoli's input this season.

"He's trying a lot of things, and with him on the test team it's nice, because he's a fast guy," Rins said about Guintoli's contribution to Suzuki's progress.

"More or less compared to me his riding style is pretty similar. He's trying a lot of things, the things that are working good, we try, and the worst things, we don't try."

Asked on his main priority for the 2019 bike, Rins said: "I think the clear point [to improve] is the engine, the top speed. We need to improve in fifth and sixth gears.

"One strong point [of the current Suzuki] is in the fast corners, our bike has a lot of potential on the traction area. We need to keep the same to also be fast for next year.

"But the important thing is to improve the engine, the electronics, the acceleration. I think they are working really hard to manage these things."

Guintoli will remain as Suzuki's test rider in 2019 and added that the new engine has more power, but it will take a while to establish if it has impacted other areas of the bike.

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Author Jamie Klein
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