Suzuki's MotoGP return is drawing closer. Speaking to Crash.net's Peter McLaren, Suzuki test rider Nobuatsu Aoki confirmed that testing on the brand new bike - an inline four with a big-bang firing order - was progressing well and that the bike would make its first public outing at the post-race test at Barcelona, after the MotoGP round there in mid-June. Aoki himself would be riding at the test, he said, alongside 'one European rider'. That is widely expected to be Randy de Puniet, though Aoki refused to name the rider.
The bike had already undergone extensive testing in Japan, Aoki told Crash.net, both at Suzuki's private test track and at Motegi. A new version of the bike had been tried last week, and Aoki pronounced himself happy with both the engine and the chassis. Suzuki's plan is to enter as a full MSMA team, which means that the factory will have just 5 engines per season and 20 liters of fuel per race at their disposal. The benefit of competing as an MSMA entry is that they will be allowed to write their own software for the spec Magneti Marelli ECU, and compete on the same terms as Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
There is still no news on exactly how the team will be run or who will manage it. Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has made it clear a number of times that Suzuki is welcome to come back to MotoGP, but that if they enter, they will have to use an existing team. Given the involvement of Randy de Puniet, and Aspar's previous association with Suzuki, paddock speculation centers on Suzuki linking up with Aspar for 2014.