This is not the season start that Team Suzuki expected...nor is it for Andrea Iannone. The lack of competitiveness in the bike has cooled the rider’s motivation, and the team members feel like “prisoners” relying on only one rider to evaluate and develop their bike. Alex Rins’ bad luck of in the form of injuries since the beginning of the season has led them to this situation.
Montmelo was a continuation of the dynamics of the previous race, which was not exactly motivating. Moreover, on Sunday afternoon the tension in the team box was so thick you could cut it with a knife…and the truth is there were plenty of reasons for it.
The lack of competitiveness in the bike has cooled the rider’s motivation, and the team members feel like “prisoners” relying on only one rider to evaluate and develop their bike.
After starting from 12th on the grid, Iannone crossed the finish line in 16th just over one second over his stand-in teammate (Rins should be back in two weeks at Assen). But what in principle seemed a sum and continues in the situation described above, is very close to becoming the straw that broke the Suzuki engineers’ patience.
The reason? Let’s talk numbers. On lap 18 of the race, Iannone laps for first time in the 1’49s; on the next one, he slows to a 1’50.507 … The pitboard tells him that a rider is approaching from behind, but without specifying that it was his temporary teammate, Sylvain Guintoli. Guintoli catches and passes Andrea, overtaking him on the straight on lap 20.
Being overtaken by Guintoli “wakes up” Andrea, who reacts and on the next three laps—laps 21,22, and 23—clocks a 1’48.576, a 1’48.576 and then a 1’48.878, a pace that allows him to open a comfortable advantage over his teammate by the time the checkered flag comes out.
Indignation in Suzuki’s box: At Montmelo, Iannone rode 1.5s faster after his teammate passed him…
The outrage among the Suzuki engineers for Iannone’s demonstrated attitude was manifest. Going 1.5 seconds faster only when he was in the embarrassing situation of being passed by his stand-in teammate is something that seems like…Laziness? Lack of commitment? Lack of professionalism? No, the environment on the team at the moment is not one that demands everyone to act as a unit.
Especially now that in Japan they have relieved the MotoGP project leader in an attempt to give the project a boost. To this end, they have reinstated one of Suzuki’s legendary engineers, Shinichi Sahara, who was responsible for the brand in the GPs until Suzuki left the championship in late 2012. It is clear that in Hamamatsu they are need experience on a project that has suffered a tremendous slowdown this season. In the last years Sahara san has been involved in the creation of Suzuki’s new GSXR 1.000. After having finished the project he has been “rescued” for the MotoGP project.