MICHEL UPBEAT DESPITE LACK OF TRACK TIME DUE TO BAD WEATHER.
The first official WSBK tests of the 2011 season at the Autodromo do Algarve, in Portimao, were blighted by poor weather throughout the three days. And so Suzuki Alstare and the rest of the teams present were unable to carry out as much work as expected. The cold temperatures meant that once the rain had fallen the track never fully dried out and so all the fast times were set on day one - the only dry track time of the three days. Team Suzuki Alstare rider Michel Fabrizio started the tests with his GSX-R1000 more or less as it was in the previous tests in November and he and the team continued to work on getting a good feeling with the bike before pushing hard. In difficult conditions, on the final day, he was second quickest, but ended seventh quickest over the three days due to the times set on day one. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) put in a lap of 1:43.503 on day one - a time that remained unbeaten thereafter. Second quickest was Jonathan Rea (Honda), with Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) third and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) fourth.
Generally I am very happy how the tests have gone, though obviously I am disappointed with the weather throughout the three days. This area is supposed to be the sunniest part of Europe, but we've seen a lot of rain and cloud. When conditions are so bad for so much of the time, it is very difficult to get through all the work that has to be done. I think my team have done a very good job these three days in conditions which changed so many times and also very quickly.
I may have only ended seventh on the timesheets, but I was only three tenths of a second behind the fastest guy and so I feel very positive about these tests. I had two crashes on the second day. Both were highsides, but I managed to escape without any injury, though it made extra work for my mechanics and for that, I am sorry.
At the moment, I think that the engine is OK and we have been working a lot on the suspension and set-up of the bike. I am still learning this bike, after years on a twin, and the characteristics are very different. The Suzuki is very nimble in the turns, but getting out of them quickly is where we suffer a little. So, that's another area that we are working on. I think if we can progress in that area, we'll be very happy.
We've got two tests before the first race in Phillip Island and it's very important that we arrive at the first race in the best possible condition. I like Phillip Island a lot because it is a fantastic track to race on and the whole setting and ambience is great.
It is a great shame that we were unable to get more work done here, but that's how it goes sometimes. Considering that I have not been on a racebike since November, I am happy with what we managed to achieve and feel upbeat about the next tests and race one. Let's hope for good weather though!
-source: team suzuki alstare