Jordan Suzuki Team Hits the Track

Henny Ray Abrams | December 15, 2010

JENNINGS, FL, DEC. 15 – The all-new Jordan Suzuki team got down to business during a test in atypically bone-chilling weather at the Jennings GP track in Jennings, Florida.New team riders Roger Lee Hayden and Ben Bostrom got their first taste of the Suzuki GSX-R1000, a bike neither had previously ridden. Hayden came to the team after a desultory year in World Superbike on the underfinanced and uncompetitive Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R. Bostrom had the shorter move, from the Pat Clark Motorsports team that leased Yamahas from the factory.And Bostrom had the more successful year. The former AMA Superbike Champion won his first Superbike race since 2004 when he raced to victory in the race on the undercard of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. That same race provided one of the highlights of Hayden’s year; he finished 11th in his lone MotoGP wild card ride in place of the injured Randy de Puniet on the LCR Honda RC212V. Hayden’s best World Superbike finish was 13th, which he achieved twice. He expects much more than that this year.”My first impression is the bike’s really nice,” Hayden said on Wednesday afternoon, at the end of the second of three days of testing on the two-mile, 14-turn road course near the Florida border with Georgia. “I feel relatively comfortable straight away, like sitting on the bike and everything, I feel like I fit it really well. That makes really happy. And even riding it, I feel like I can ride the bike. Sometimes on the Kawi I felt I was stretched out a little bit on it. And just compared to last year’s bike, this thing’s not even in the same league. This thing’s so much better.”With sub-freezing morning temperatures on Tuesday, the riders didn’t get on track until it warmed up later in the day. And the track was never warm enough to give the riders confidence to push hard.”Today was really the first impression,” Bostrom said on Wednesday afternoon, with temperatures dropping from the low-50’s into the low-40’s. “Yesterday we had a set-up bike. Really, really friendly. I could see the bike had a lot of potential, but you never got to ride it at its potential. And Rog [Hayden] and I just went out and rode it around.”It was freezing yesterday and we got familiar with it, but both of us had the same complaint about the front. Today they gave us proper bikes. Kicked the front end and gave us a race bike. And both of us instantly dropped a couple seconds the minute we went out.”Hayden dropped three seconds from the first day to the second. Bostrom’s improvement was similar.The test ended with Bostrom holding the unofficial lap record. His hand-timed lap of 1:13.7  mins. is lower than the 1:14.51, set by Geoff May in 2007, which is what the track website lists. But the record, until this test, was 1:13.8 run by Larry Pegram at a previous test.The biggest adjustment for the Jordan riders was the K-Tech suspension. The team is one of the few to use something other than Ohlins, which is the class standard. Both riders had similar problems on Tuesday, which were sorted out a day later.”Feels a little different,” Hayden said. “I think the front has a lot of feel. I haven’t really been chasing the front at all, mainly trying to get the rear end to work more. Right now the stuff seems really good. Just got to fine tune it a little bit, but I definitely don’t think it’s that far off. If anything it’s as good or better than the Ohlins.”Added Bostrom, “Initially I wasn’t getting along with it all and we just dialed it in. That’s been the biggest thing.” The team “freed up and softened it up, because before it was pretty stiff. You had to ride it really aggressive. I don’t know how they rode it like that. And we ended up making the thing freer and now it follows the bumps around and also it works.”Hayden and Bostrom were both complimentary of their new team. For Bostrom, the advantage is how quickly they can respond.”I see the advantage to this team, because last year you had your hands tied,” Bostrom said. With the lease program, “you could only do so much, but they were such a good group of guys. But these guys are good dudes and the potential is wide open.” If a part’s needed, the team can make it or might have a variation in stock. “I haven’t had a team like that in a long, long time where they were just on spot.”The riders tested last year’s 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000’s, Hayden mostly on the 54 National Guard Suzuki of Jake Zemke and Bostrom on the 23 Jordan Suzuki  that Aaron Yates started the season with before his year ended with a severely broken leg at Auto Club Speedway.  The team hopes to have their 2011 machines by Christmas, which they’ll need to transform into race bikes by the second Daytona tire test in mid-January.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.