It was a good week to be Kevin Schwantz.
Schwantz returned to the MotoGP paddock over the course of the weekend at Circuit of the Americas, the 1993 500cc World Champion beginning his new role as two wheel ambassador for the circuit on the outskirts of his hometown of Austin, Texas. And then it got even better yesterday when Schwantz got the chance to not only test the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 in order to prepare for the Suzuka 8 Hour, but he also got to throw a leg over Suzuki’s new MotoGP bike.
Schwantz did 11 laps on the new bike, lapping at a best of 2:12.75. Not bad for the near 50 year old.
“I went on the MotoGP machine after riding the GSX-R1000 Superbike and it felt like going from a 500cc to a 250cc bike; the MotoGP machine is so small and compact,” Schwantz said. “The bike turns, accelerates, goes fast; it does everything and I had fun and really enjoyed it.
“With this bike you have power and braking so you brake and accelerate and the bike does all the rest. I think Suzuki should race now - the sooner the better. You can test a lot but in the race you really understand. After having ridden the MotoGP machine, I now appreciate much more the GSX-R and I want to continue to work on that now to prepare for my race at Suzuka in July. So tomorrow I will only ride the GSX-R.”
With track and air temperatures much cooler than the weekend’s MotoGP second round – and with Monday’s opening day hit by heavy rain and dirty track conditions – Suzuki MotoGP Test rider Randy De Puniet completed 56 laps with a best lap-time of 2:06.41. The team spent a lot of time in the morning session testing new chassis settings and also adjusting the gearbox for the team’s first test on this new-for-them circuit.
“This was a new track for Suzuki, but also I have not ridden the bike since February,” the Frenchman said. “We spend some time changing the settings and the gearbox ratios, then we continued to compare two different frames and we found again that the best one here was the one we choose in Sepang. And we confirmed it again that this is more stable in the corner entry. In the afternoon we tested different electronic maps. It has been not bad as first day here and I’m confident we can improve tomorrow. Hopefully the track will be cleaner.”
Suzuki MotoGP Test Team Manager Davide Brivio said: “A positive day on a completely new circuit for us. One of the main targets is to continue the development of the new electronics and also to collect useful information on this track for next year when we will be racing.
“We have done that today but also we could work on bike settings and chassis comparison. The lap-time is not bad for the first day and we are looking forward to improving tomorrow hoping that the temperature can go up a bit and the track will be cleaner.
“It was also very emotional to have Kevin Schwantz - everybody’s hero - riding our bike here. He was quite fast considering the conditions, so we’d like to thank Kevin for this gift!”