Randy de Puniet has completed his first two-day test on Suzuki’s MotoGP machine. The Frenchman flew to Japan directly after the French round of MotoGP at Le Mans, to take part in the test organized at Motegi’s Twin Ring circuit, home of the Japanese round of MotoGP, and a circuit owned by Honda.

Under the terms of his testing contract, De Puniet is unable to say anything official, his manager Eric Mahé telling the French magazine Moto Journal only that the test “went well”. Suzuki did not publish any times from the test or provide any other information, but as the MotoGP test teams from both Yamaha and Honda were present, it was inevitable that times would leak out. German-language website Speedweek claims the scoop, with times also to be published in the Spanish magazine Motociclismo, which is out on Tuesday.

According to Speedweek, the test took place in excellent conditions, with temperatures of 28°C and a dry track. The German website reports De Puniet as having posted a time of 1’47.0 on Suzuki’s new inline four MotoGP machine, though no other confirmation of that time has been forthcoming. In comparison, that is as fast as Honda test rider Takumi Takahashi on the day, and half a second quicker than Yamaha test rider Katsuaki Nakasuga.

So how competitive does that make Suzuki’s new MotoGP machine? When we compare it to the times set by MotoGP riders during the race last year, it seems like a solid start. De Puniet is just over 2 seconds off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole time, and 1.4 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa’s best race lap at the event. De Puniet’s time puts him a little slower than the race pace of the Ducati, Valentino Rossi having posted a lap of 1’46.739 during the race, though he qualified 0.8 seconds faster than that.

Comparing De Puniet’s test time to his own performance at the race on the Aprilia ART machine, he is just under six tenths quicker than his qualifying time, but over two and a half seconds faster than the time he set during the race. De Puniet’s race time is hard to compare: he crashed on the first lap on the Aprilia ART machine, and never fully recovered his pace, retiring after the halfway point. It was much cooler during the race weekend in 2012, of course (air temperature 20°C), meaning that this week’s test took place under much more favorable conditions.

Just how accurate these times are, and how competitive Suzuki’s MotoGP machine will actually be, will become more apparent when the Suzuki receives its first public outing in three week’s time, at the Monday test after the Barcelona round of MotoGP. That test takes place with official timing, and De Puniet will once again be riding the bike there.

Despite the test, Suzuki’s official entry is yet to be confirmed. The Japanese factory had initially asked Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta for entry slots for just a single year. Given Suzuki’s checkered history in recent years – asking for extra engines in the allocation, asking for an exception for the now-defunct rookie rule, cutting back to just a single rider in 2011, despite assurances to the contrary, and then pulling out altogether at the end of 2011 – Ezpeleta is keen to have them sign a three-year contract, to prevent the Japanese factory from withdrawing after just a single year.

Former Valentino Rossi manager Davide Brivio has been contracted to run the team, and is currently putting together a workshop in Italy. As for the riders, Cal Crutchlow remains the hot favorite for one seat, the other looking like going to a young Italian rider. Former Suzuki MotoGP crew chief Tom O’Kane was present at the Motegi tests to function as crew chief, and is widely believed to have been contracted for the role.

The website of the British motorcycling weekly Motorcycle News has a selection of photos of the bike.

Lap Times at Motegi, Official and Unofficial:

Rider Bike Event Time Diff
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2012 QP 1:44.969  –
Dani Pedrosa Honda 2012 QP 1:45.212 0.243
Dani Pedrosa Honda 2012 Race 1:45.589 0.620
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2012 Race 1:45.727 0.758
Valentino Rossi Ducati 2012 QP 1:45.976 1.007
Valentino Rossi Ducati 2012 Race 1:46.739 1.770
Katsuaki Nakasuga Yamaha 2012 QP 1:46.780 1.811
Randy de Puniet Suzuki 2013 Test 1:47.000 2.031
Takumi Takahashi Honda 2013 Test 1:47.000 2.031
Katsuaki Nakasuga Yamaha 2012 Race 1:47.220 2.251
Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2012 QP 1:47.581 2.612
Katsuaki Nakasuga Yamaha 2013 Test 1:47.590 2.621
Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha 2013 Test 1:47.900 2.931
Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda 2013 Test 1:47.930 2.961
Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2012 Race 1:49.642 4.673

Race and qualifying times from the 2012 Motegi round of MotoGP taken from the official website. Test times are unofficial, unverified times as published by German website Speedweek.

Source: Motociclismo, SpeedWeek, & MCN; Photo: Cycle World

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Westward

    Seriously, not De Puniet & Crutchlow…

  • CTK

    Westward, do you agree that Crutchlow would be throwing away great momentum going with this unknown? I like Suzuki and want more factory teams but I don’t think they ever had a competitive factory bike in the 4 stroke era. This is only compounded by the fact that Honda has seemed to master the new tire compound, and that the top riders seem to have dropped another second or so off all their lap times since Suzuki was even in the fold. Plus they have financial problems, I think, and don’t really have a huge well of $$$ to draw on like Honda, Yamaha or the newly German-backed Ducati. They will def be swimming upstream on this one. If they can hack it I will be really impressed.

  • I don’t care of Crutchlow takes to the grid on a 1984 Honda Elite 80 scooter, he deserves a factory paycheck!

  • Alex MacPherson

    —-not competitive—- ’nuff said

  • Damo

    @Alex MacPherson

    Your right Alex, their first real test wasn’t as fast as a world champion’s lap time. They should probably just scrap the whole program….*rolls eyes*

  • Norm G.

    re: “Your right Alex, their first real test wasn’t as fast as a world champion’s lap time. They should probably just scrap the whole program”

    actually alex IS right. we’re in the era of elbow draggin phenoms and million dollar gearboxes. for a company forced to declare bankruptcy, motogp is a bridge too far. but ezpelata’s not impressed with all this testing hype, his 3yr requirement will sober them up.

  • SquidleyMcSquidson

    @Norm G

    Who declared bankruptcy? American Suzuki Motor Corp went under because they weren’t really selling any cars over here. The marine and motorcycle/ATV division did NOT go under, they moved them to a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corp. They aren’t making cars in Canada anymore, and have shifted their production base to India. How does Suzuki pulling out of the US car market mean the company has failed? A subsidiary failing doesn’t mean the whole company went under. Their brand new facility near Jakarta is doing just fine, and their profits have been on the rise in Asia. I suppose if the Yamaha piano division starts posting losses or if their industrial robotics department goes under then they should give up on all racing. These Japanese companies do a whole lot more than just make motorcycles. Speculation at this stage of development is just ridiculous, but not quite as ridiculous as your line by line quotation and argument strategy of commenting to posts on this website. If I told you in 2007 that BMW was going to make a superbike that would be a title contender in just a few years time, what would you have said? If I told you that MV was going to make a middleweight that would score a podium in it’s first few races, what would you have said? If I told you that Ducati was going to make a bike with no frame and chain driven cams that would already score wins and podiums in STK, or if I said that a moto GP rookie would score multiple podiums with a win an poles in his first season? Have an open mind for f’s sake! We WANT more manufacturers in the series! We WANT more bikes on the grid! We WANT more factory seats for great riders!

  • Grimey Benson

    @Norm G

    Listen to Squidley, he has the right of it.

    You should probably google information before you go off on a tangent, mate.

  • Keith

    I dunno, when you think about it. 2sec off on a first official test? Not too shabby at all…

  • Ronald Burgandy

    I’m thinking the same as Keith. Suzuki doesn’t seem that far off.

    …also, it seems the restructuring of Suzuki not only saved what remains of the company(motorcycles, ATV, marine) but also cleared the way for a healthy future. So, getting back into motoGP would seem to make sense. I see this as great news all the way around.

    I’m wondering where Kawasaki’s at? never too late to rejoin the party.

  • Faust

    I think Kawi is focused completely on SBK right now and it’s paid off by them having the only Japanese bike that can hold it’s own with the Aprilia and BMW. Plus they are doing great in BSB and are well represented in road racing. It’s improved the street product, and kept it at a reasonable price. If Honda would do the same, I’d consider giving them more of my money. But no, these companies want to spend tens of millions on bikes I can’t buy and product they can’t sell me. What have we got from Honda’s gp investment? Unit pro link suspension? Like 10 years ago? Please. Kawi should just keep doing what they are doing, it’s working.

  • MikeD

    I’m just glad to see them here and willing to try, AGAIN. One must crawl, stand and walk before running.

    Blessed those who don’t/didn’t have to go thru the whole “learning” process.