Suzuki's MotoGP contender has made another 'surprise' appearance, this time being spotted in Japan. The respected US publication Cycle World has their legendary technical editor Kevin Cameron break down the changes to the bike between the first time it was spotted and this time, and his analysis makes for fascinating reading.
According to Cameron, the bike remains an inline four, though the exhaust has been modified from a four-into-two-into-one to a four-into-one. The firing order - the Cycle World story says it retains a big-bang firing order, sounding like Yamaha's M1 - also remains, but the chassis and swingarm has undergone major changes. Flexibility has been added to the swingarm, and the bike looks physically smaller.
The rest of the press will get a chance to see the bike in person when it makes its public debut at the Barcelona tests in mid-June, probably with official test rider Randy de Puniet at the helm. The question of who will run Suzuki when they return to the paddock is still up in the air. It is widely expected that the Aspar team will take over the running of the team, though Davide Brivio, formerly Valentino Rossi's manager at Yamaha, has also been linked to the deal.
Suzuki will have to enter through an existing team, though, as part of Dorna's new rules on controlling the grid. With only 24 permanent entries allowed, Dorna is keen to retain the teams who have remained in the series, rather than lose them to the entry of a factory. Given Suzuki's previous behavior, never fielding more than two machines, despite numerous requests to do more, cutting back to a single bike in 2011 and then pulling out altogether in 2012, Dorna does not want to risk losing more teams if Suzuki change their mind again. Given the continued weakness of the motorcycle market, and Suzuki's tight budgets, it is still unclear whether Suzuki can sustain a MotoGP effort in the long term.