Quizzing three key Suzuki new futurists
According to my computer's electronic dictionary, Futurism was "an early 20th-century artistic movement that attempted to express the dynamic nature of the modern age using technology as its subject."
It was also "a belief
in the need to look to the future rather than reflect on the past, coupled with optimism that personal and social fulfilment lies in the future."
Fast forward one century and you can still use these broad concepts to illustrate where Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is heading with its rolling works of metallic art, just as soon as the chequered flag drops at the final round of the 2006 season at Valencia.
With the advent of 800cc engines in MotoGP from now on, tomorrow is now, and we quizzed three key Rizla Suzuki New Futurists about their immediate off-season plans, starting with Team Manager Paul Denning.
"The 800s mean new opportunities for everybody", said Denning, who knows that the retention of Suzuki's favoured V-four engine format is one of many reasons to be optimistic on the eve of a whole new MotoGP era. "Suzuki has developed a number of new technologies with the existing bike which will fit straight into the new bike. I don't say that they will give us any advantage as such, but they will provide us with a nice platform to work from. With Chris Vermeulen going into his second year of MotoGP he will know all the tracks and John Hopkins has already moved further forward with his professionalism and his intelligence on the bike. If the bike takes more steps forward, everything we do in readiness for next year will be a positive investment.
The enthusiasm to develop the new-era 800cc machine looks like only being matched by the intensity of the imminent workload.
Normally there is a single pre-embargo shakedown test, at Valencia, but this time around, with all-new bikes to be made ready, there will be two days at Valencia, then three days in Malaysia, then a final three more days in Jerez, before the testing embargo kicks in. And that's all happening before the Christmas presents have been bought, never mind unwrapped.
For Vermeulen, a new boy in Rizla Suzuki MotoGP this season, 2007 may be harder work then ever before, but he welcomes it.
"I'm still learning as a MotoGP rider, so the more time I spend on the new bike the better", says Vermeulen. "The 800s mean that it's almost a re-start for everyone but a lot of the technology we use will be similar, as the Suzuki is basically downsizing. I don't think it's going to be any slower in testing, and we should be doing very similar lap times."
No question in his mind what the main opportunities in 2007 will be for him.
"The thing I'm looking forward to most is not learning any of the circuits on a Friday. I'll be going into every race weekend with the same frame of mind as I entered Valencia, Phillip Island and a few of other tracks I knew this year. It's not that it's that hard to learn new circuits but you can be a day behind most other riders in terms of set-up before you even reach race day."
Hopkins is about to have an even busier off-season than even Vermeulen.
Said John, "It's definitely gonna be the busiest winter we have ever had. I don't get much time at home in America, just the month of December, and then we are back into testing. And with 18 races, it's going to be a tough and busy year."
As for the 800cc era, Hopkins believes it won't take long before the lap times the current 990s are beaten.
"I think in the long term the 800s will make the lap times quicker because the corner speeds will be higher. We will lose some time down the straightaways, but they won't be much slower."
A record number of off-season tests, more races than ever before and a whole new machine to get used to - the winter months for the entire Rizla Suzuki MotoGP clan will hardly be spent in hibernation.