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Motorsport | MotoGP

Nobuatsu Aoki © Gallo Images

Suzuki says on track for 2014 return



Suzuki is ramping up testing as it seeks to return to MotoGP next year, test rider Nobuatsu Aoki said on Tuesday, adding that the team's new bike was performing better than expected.

The 41-year-old, who last raced a full season in 2004, said the Japanese outfit had been testing at home on the Motegi track and plans to head to Barcelona in Spain after the Catalunya Grand Prix in mid-June.

"We are on schedule (for 2014). We just launched a new bike last week. It performed quite good, better than I expected," the Japanese rider said on the sidelines of pre-season tests at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.

Suzuki has been planning a return to the premier-class grid since last year after pulling out at the end of 2011, when it ran just one bike in the competition after going winless since 2007.

However Dorna, which runs MotoGP, has reportedly said the grid is already full and Suzuki must come to an agreement with another outfit if none of the teams pull out for next season.

Aoki said he was unaware of any arrangements being made by Suzuki, but noted that while it would be cheaper to join up with an existing team, the manufacturer would want its own setup.

He said a European rider would be joining the Japanese manufacturer soon but declined to name him. "Maybe French, maybe Italian, I don't know."

This is the second test session at Sepang, continuing until Thursday, after the first pre-season tests three weeks ago.

A third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25 before the opening round of the MotoGP world championship in Qatar under floodlights on April 7.

Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13.

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