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Alex Rins says Suzuki has managed to vastly improve the GSX-RR’s engine, one of its main weaknesses in the 2017 MotoGP season, over the winter.
After its successful 2016 campaign, during which it won its first race in almost a decade courtesy of Maverick Vinales, Suzuki entered last year without its rules concessions. This meant engine development was frozen for it from the first round in Qatar.
A misdirection with engine choice during the pre-season phase of last year meant Suzuki struggled for much of the year, with two fourth-place finishes from the final four grands prix the highlight.
Keen to avoid a repeat, Suzuki has focused its efforts on testing its new engine at Sepang. Rins – who ended Monday’s running 13th quickest – has so far found the new unit has improved “in all the areas” where the bike faltered last season.
“What is true is we improve a lot the engine,” he said.
“Today we focused a little bit on the 2018 package, yesterday we started to try and it was really because we found a set-up, and I think we had a good rhythm.
“Today was a little bit for work on the rhythm of the engine, trying to be at 100%, to be secure.
“In Japan they worked really hard this winter, and they improve a little bit in all the areas: in the area of power and a lot in the area of turning that we were missing last year.”
Rins says the team has new chassis running on its testing programme, but opted against trying any frame updates to focus on the engine in order to avoid making “the same mistake” as 12 months ago.
“At the moment we just try the engine and set-up, we don’t try any chassis,” he added.
“We have [chassis testing] on the planning, but basically we don’t want to do the same mistake we did last year, so today we focused on the engine.
“We improve a little bit on the electronic parts, but basically the engine does the big step, the big difference.
“Basically with the electronics you adjust a little bit the bike, you can adjust a little bit the answer of the bike. But the important [thing] is the engine.”