Team Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider Max Biaggi posted the second fastest time behind World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss in the Pirelli three-day test in Qatar, aboard the brand new 2007-model GSX-R1000 K7 Suzuki, that finished today.
The new machine that Biaggi and team mate Yukio Kagayama used is very different in feel to the 2006 bike and both riders worked hard at understanding and developing the bike instead of chasing lap times.
Biaggi left it until his last lap before posting his best time as Kagayama took eighth quickest time due to a mistake in tyre choice.
Both riders gave valuable feedback to the team about engine characteristics and chassis set-up and these areas will be the main focus of attention and hard work before the next tests in January.
Max Biaggi- (best lap: 1:58.9):
I think that this track is really difficult for us and the conditions on day one didn't help us much. The track felt a bit slippery - probably because of the sand - and I didn't want to push too hard, too soon and crash. When the conditions improved I was able to start to understand the feeling of the bike. It definitely didn't feel as good initially as it did during our last tests in Valencia and we soon realised that we had a lot of work to do - probably more than the others here.
For all of us, the bike is still new and we have to work on the stability of it as well as the characteristics of the engine. At the moment the engine doesn't feel so smooth and that makes it difficult entering and exiting the corners. That, together with the behaviour of the chassis, means that I cannot get the bike to drive as smoothly as I would like.
Like everybody else, I set my best lap time on a soft tyre- one that would not be able to last a complete race - but it was good to finish with the second best lap here. I am happy with how the team is working and am confident that they will be working just as hard on the build-up to the next tests. Suddenly the first race seems not so far away so I hope our next tests will solve some of our current problems.
Yukio Kagayama - (best lap: 2:00.1):
I would've liked to have ended these tests with a faster lap time, but I am not too disappointed because we managed to do a lot of good work on the new K7 bike. Also, I think maybe our tyre choice was not so good when I was trying to do my best lap and I ended lower than I had wanted. We were a little held up by the conditions at the start of the test, but once they began to improve we were able to push a lot harder. We worked a lot on the chassis during these tests and at the end I felt that the bike was more comfortable and enjoyable to ride. We also worked on the behaviour of the engine and how to make the feeling smoother.
I think that there are improvements still to come in both these areas. The bike feels quite different to the 2006 model and Max, I and the whole team have to understand what is going on before we can make the changes required. We have only two tests before the first race and I hope by then the bike will be ready. A lot will depend on what we find in the next tests, but my feeling is quite positive.