Suzuki called me to organize its MotoGP racing team. We started testing in May at Twin Ring Motegi—two days with Randy de Puniet. From there, the plan was to go to Barcelona and Aragon in June, which we did. In the beginning, we looked at coming back to racing in 2014. Now, Suzuki has decided to come back in 2015, so we have another year of testing ahead of us.
Right now, the bike has Mitsubishi electronics. Next year, everybody must have Magneti Marelli hardware and software. Suzuki has knowledge and know-how about electronics—currently, the bike is working quite well—but we have to switch to Marelli. The good point is that we know the base strategies, but we need to replicate those strategies and rewrite the software. The target is to have this equipment on a bike by autumn. To be ready next February for the first race would have been a hard job.
MotoGP will go to 20 liters of fuel next year. This is also a challenge. Looking at the regulations, because it will be our first year, we should have nine engines. At the moment, engine reliability is not a big issue; nine engines would have been okay. But 20 liters and Marelli ECU will require more time.
The engine is an inline-Four. The idea is to have a link with the production bike. It is good if the racing bike is an inline-Four so we can transfer it into production.
The decision to come back in 2015 creates a big challenge in terms of riders. Almost all riders will be at the end of their contracts. We will have to try to get the best available rider. I will ask, “Who is number one? Who is number two? Who is number three?” That should be our target. But there will be a lot of competition. Honda and Yamaha are at the highest level; they are the reference in this sport.
I know Valentino Rossi well. He likes the Yamaha, the team and the atmosphere. He has nothing to prove, but he’s working very hard to get back to the top. If he gets there, it will be a great achievement. If he doesn’t, okay, he’s already done a lot. That’s why he can smile if Marc Marquez overtakes him, thinking, “Okay, you did it to me. Next time, I try to do it to you.” I see Valentino remaining with Yamaha for life. So, we’re not thinking too much about him.
Marquez is amazing, better than everybody expected. I see a lot of Valentino in him. Talent is not enough. You need to work. He’s spending a lot of time in the garage. He’s studying video, data, looking at other riders. For sure, he will be one of the greatest riders in motorcycle history. Also, it is good to see him so young and talented and enjoying what he is doing. That is nice for our sport.
The Suzuki MotoGP bike is a very exciting project, but we don’t expect to get everything right by year one. It will take time.
The first laps of Suzuki’s new MotoGP bike at Catalunya
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