Suzuki recently announced that it will return to the MotoGP paddock in 2015, but has already begun testing its prototype machine and says that it will continue to run tests 'at the circuits inside and outside Japan for further development and refinement.'The manufacturer's official announcement goes on to confirm that the 'European Testing Team' will be headed by Davide Brivio, who will act as team manager, and by Randy de Puniet, who will work as the development rider.
Both persons bring a wealth of knowledge to the team (De Puniet is a MotoGP veteran who currently rides an Aplilia CRT bike for the Power Electrics Aspar team in MotoGP, and Brivio is an experienced team manager who worked with Valentino Rossi during his first tenure with Yamaha), and are slated to be part of the project through 2013.
Suzuki revealed a few more details in its terse press release, and announced, for instance, that its next-generation race bike will be built around an inline-four engine rather than a V-four engine like that which the team used in the previously raced GSV-R. The company also mentioned that it 'will feed back advanced technology to be derived through MotoGP racing activity to develop further attractive production models,' which suggests that the manufacturer plans to use this program as an opportunity to better its GSX-R models. It'll be interested to see how that plays out in the future. There's a lot more to be determined. Who will race the motorcycle, for instance? Cal Crutchlow could be considered the hot property of 2014, as the British rider has consistently been the quickest rider outside of the factory trio of Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo, and the Repsol Honda pair of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, Crutchlow has been linked with one of the Suzuki seats if negotiations with Yamaha didn't pan out, but now that option is gone. Ignite Pramac Ducati rider Ben Spies was also linked with the ride.
Whoever lands in the Suzuki's saddle will likely be faced with the many curve-balls that come courtesy of a developing program, but as it sits, the Suzuki doesn't look to be ill-fated; Rand De Puniet finished his first one-day test aboard the bike in eigth place, around 0.163 seconds behind Valentino Rossi. Jorge Lorenzo finished that some test atop the timing charts, but was only 0.772 seconds ahead of De Puniet, who later confirmed that he'd have been able to go a bit quicker with more time in the saddle.