Suzuki Racing



Team Suzuki Press Office – April 1.

Bennetts Suzuki's Richard Cooper raced the all-new GSX-R1000 to a maiden podium finish on its British Championship debut today, crossing the line in second place in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race at Donington Park.

Cooper, who was fastest in the first free practice session, qualified in second-place on the brand-new Suzuki. He finished the opening half of the new-formatted race in second place, before again finishing runner-up in the second half; narrowly missing-out on the win.

Richard Cooper:

"It was tricky today. It was declared a wet race and we could have lost a lot if we'd crashed and I didn't want to push beyond what I needed to, and to finish second in the first part of the race from where we were at the halfway point, I was more than happy with. Conditions still weren't perfect for the second half of the race but I should have won that. I made a mistake into ‘Goddards’ and in good conditions I'd have got away with it, but running off-line cost me about three seconds. I had ground to make-up but we were less than a tenth-off the win at the line and I think if we'd had another lap we could have been standing on the top-step of the podium. We're trying some more with the bike in warm-up tomorrow, going in another direction with the setup, just to try and find a bit more consistency with the bike in all sectors around here. Hopefully it'll be dry; the weather is looking better. We're starting from pole so we'll give it a go again."

In the MCE British Superbike class the Bennetts Suzuki team made steady progress throughout the free practice sessions, despite a number of challenges that inevitably arise with a new machine.

Sylvain Guintoli finished quickest in the final free practice session, but with qualifying cancelled due to track contamination, the former World Superbike Champion will start from the third row of the grid in eighth position.

Team-mate Taylor Mackenzie enjoyed a positive FP1, but was forced to miss the bulk of FP2 with the team changing an exhaust on his GSX-R1000. He then suffered a crash in a wet FP3 while posting strong lap-times and will start down in 22nd on the grid. However, the reigning Superstock 1000 Champion is confident of making progress through the field in tomorrow's opening race.

Sylvain Guintoli:

"For sure it is a shame about qualifying being cancelled as we were going to use this session to try some more things with the bike, and I would have liked to have improved our grid position. But the start of the weekend has confirmed what we knew about the base bike and how strong it is, and Richard's performance in Superstock has shown that. For Superbike, we still need to improve: The engine is very powerful, so it takes work to manage that. We've also worked on some chassis development. It's very early days but we're not far-off either. These last few-tenths are the hardest to find. We also know the bike works well in the wet and I felt really comfortable this morning in FP3. There are clear signs we are having a good start, and racing is the best way to extract everything from a bike, so we should make another step tomorrow."

Taylor Mackenzie:

"We're working well. We're not where we want to be on the grid but it's also not where we should be really because we've got a lot more potential. In this morning's FP3 I was top-five for much of it until the crash. It was a pretty fast one. But even in the other sessions, when I've managed to get a run together, we've been around the top-10. The bike's mega and there's loads left in it. It's a shame qualifying was cancelled, and it means we're trying a lot of stuff in warm-up tomorrow, but I'm confident of scoring points in both races; hopefully we'll get into the top-10."

Michael Dunlop is also using the opening round of the British Superbike Championship to spend more time on the GSX-R1000 he will race at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT races. The Northern Irishman has been working on machine set-up, improving his feeling with the bike and subsequently his lap-times. He will start tomorrow's opening race in 27th.

Steve Hicken - Team Manager:

"It's been an eventful season-opener so far, but it's been good. Obviously, we're really pleased with the bike's debut in the Superstock class and Cooper's performances so far this weekend have been great. To finish on the podium, first time-out with a new bike, is fantastic. Tomorrow we've got every chance of going one better and getting a win.

"In Superbike, it's been a bit trickier. We've had a couple of crashes, but we're a team with a new bike, trying to adapt it to new rules, and it's early days. But that said, we've come here and we're competitive right away with areas to work on and improve, and everyone in the team is working hard. Sylvain would obviously want to go away from here with a race win, and while that's entirely possible, I think we'll all be happy with a couple of top-six finishes and a solid start to the season. Taylor should also make more progress tomorrow in the races, while for Michael, this weekend is all about more time on the bike, learning the bike more; all in preparation for the North West."

Superbike Qualifying Result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Luke Mossey, 3. Josh Brookes, 8. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 22. Taylor Mackenzie (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 27. Michael Dunlop (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).

Superstock Race 1 Result: 1. Danny Buchan, 2. Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 3. Michael Rutter, 4. Chrissy Rouse, 5. Ian Hutchinson.

Donington Park BSB Image Gallery: CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

For more stories about Sylvain Guintoli, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

For more stories about Taylor Mackenzie, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

For more stories about Michael Dunlop, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

For more stories about Richard Cooper, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

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