After our recent test of the new GSXR1000K9 I wrote to Suzuki GB outlining our thoughts on the bike. I thought you might be interested to read the letter and hope it demonstrates how positive we are all feeling about the coming season.
An Open Letter To Suzuki GB
I am currently on my way back from our short test at Portimao and after all your help in securing the bike early I wanted to give you a brief update on how it went.
We ran the bike in on the dyno at Steve Jordan’s before we left on Wednesday afternoon and drove down to Portimao ready for testing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
With no time to change anything we literally fitted more track oriented tyres, although still treaded rather than slicks, and fitted a set of Performance Friction brake pads. Everything else remained as standard, including lights, wing mirrors, road gearing, etc. I made a best guess stab at the suspension set up while Matt got back in to the swing of things on one of our old K7s. The plan was that he would try the new bike and then do further testing on the K7. After just one session he refused to even look at the K7 and set about getting to grips with the new machine.
We worked on the suspension set up over the weekend and the results were quite simply staggering. Although the conditions were pretty much perfect compared to when we raced at the track last November Matt ended up some 3.4 seconds faster than his race time, i.e. a stock road bike versus an Ohlins and Yoshimura equipped full on SuperStock race bike with 15 hp more and, I would guess, weighing 15 kgs less. He was just 1.3 seconds off Brendan Roberts’ fastest lap of the race last November and 2.1 seconds off the overall lap record set in a dry qualifying session.
It has to be said that the lap record was bettered by 0.9 seconds by fellow European SuperStock regular Barry Burrell over the weekend but he was riding the MS Racing CBR1000RR that his team mate actually won a round of the Championship on last year. Despite this Matt was still only 2.8 seconds of this new fastest time. Considering Ten Kate had a hand in building and setting up his bike and that he came from 4 days testing at Cartagena after a season of racing in 2008 we were all very impressed.
BSB SuperStock podium finisher Richard Cooper was also at the test on his 2008 Co-Ordit Yamaha R1. He was marginally slower than Barry but given they have both raced those bikes for at least a season we felt that to get so close was just simply stunning. There was even a couple of top MRO PowerBike racers on a 2008 SuperBike R1 and a GSXR1000K8 that couldn’t match the times. Another experience European SuperStock regular riding the GSXR1000K8 that finished second in the Portimao race last November simply gave up when Matt pushed pass him on the stock bike in an informal race.
At the end of the weekend this road bike was lapping just 4.5 seconds slower than Tommy Bridewell’s fastest lap time when he was the wildcard in the WSB races at the end of last year. 4.5 seconds off a British and Italian SuperBike rider in stock form!
Sorry for all the facts and figures but we simply weren’t expecting it to be this good and are now full of enthusiasm about the season ahead. We are still working on getting the necessary budget together (and a team mate) to do the full European SuperStock Championship and as many British SuperStock rounds as we can afford.
Some credit has to go to Matt for riding the wheels off the thing and proves what I have long believed that he is one of the best up and coming British riders at the moment. Having said that I do also hope that Suzuki realises just how special this bike really is. The funniest quote of the weekend was from another racer on a Crescent prepared ‘customer spec.’ SuperBike when he was overheard to lament “I am so embarrassed, I’ve just been overtaken by a bike with wing mirrors”. He forgot to mention that we had a video camera taped to one of those mirrors at the time to record the experience.
There are a couple of weak points that we found but I think it says more about just how good everything else on the bike is and also how it wasn’t aimed at someone doing 80+ hard laps of the 4.6-ish km Portimao circuit. The rear shock overheated and lost most of it’s rebound damping after a full day of very hard use and the rubber brake lines and standard fluid eventually gave up as well early on the third day putting paid to any more testing. Despite that we got a remarkably good set up and by addressing those two items I firmly believe this bike is good enough to win club races in the UK, even in road trim if necessary.
I think this is, without exaggeration, the most remarkable bike Suzuki have ever built. It is almost a shame that it looks so similar at first glance to the old bike as every area that we have struggled with or worked around with the old model has been addressed and bettered by some margin. Matt said it is the best bike he has ever ridden and I can easily see why.