Suzuki rejoined the Moto GP class for the 2015 season and despite it only being its second year, with Maverick Vinales as the pilot since the return, the bike has made so many strides as it continued its ‘evolution’ throughout winter testing.
Vinales, 21, certainly made his presence felt amongst the other top riders by leading or being amongst the leaders as days of testing and practice drew to a close. When it came to qualifying he managed to place third on the grid ready for the season opener at Qatar.
'The Year of Evolution'
The Team Suzuki Ecstar team boss declared this season as ‘the year of evolution’ for the Suzuki as they develop the bike; they only recently changed to the full up and down seamless gearbox tested by Tsuda over the winter.
Unfortunately Vinales did not get the best of starts; he seemed to be swallowed up by the field and was out accelerated by the Ducatis and out-braked by others. He found himself behind Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa who was chasing a group of five who had managed to break away. He was able to stick with Pedrosa but did not get close enough to challenge.
This year Michelin have took on the role as tyre suppliers to the MotoGP class, Vinales chose to run on the soft front and rear on race day but struggled to maintain the pace he set over practice and qualifying. Vinales looked disappointed with his result as he returned to his pit garage; he finished in sixth overall 15.423 seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha.
'I felt the bike sliding a lot'
Vinales said his sixth place finish "is not a bad result" but it also "not enough at this point." The Spaniard enjoyed an impressive practice and qualifying, but "in the race I couldn't make the same."
The young rider "couldn't get a proper feeling" of the bike which he felt sliding a lot - which is something the team will have to look at "to see and understand what changed and happened.
"The positive thing is that for the whole weekend we have been very close to the top; maybe in the race we were a little unlucky because the weekend overall was very positive," added Vinales.
The 21-year-old "can't wait" for the MotoGP in Argentina, praising his team which "have a lot of potential" who can "fight for the top positions."
"I must thank the Factory and the Team," added Vinales. "They are doing a huge job to support me and I am sure that if we keep working hard we will find the best solution.”
Aleix Espargaro finished in 11th
Vinales’ teammate Aleix Espargaro finished in eleventh overall following on from a difficult test and practice in Qatar; Espargaro has had many crashes which he has fortunately been able to walk away from. The Spanish rider finished over 20 seconds behind his teammate after qualifying in 15th on the grid.
“This has been a very hard weekend and the race results reflect this," said Espargaro. "This afternoon in the warm-up I felt very uncomfortable so with my team the Suzuki Engineers we decide to make a huge change in the bike."
Espargaro "knew it was a gamble" but despite that, "it gave me more confidence." The team will now look at the data collected and "test again in Argentina."
As the Suzuki evolves throughout the season it will be interesting to see the impact it and its riders Is able to have on the MotoGP Championship. Both riders appear to remain positive as they look forward to the next round in Argentina.