Fixi Suzuki boss Paul Denning has admitted his team's full-time switch to World Superbikes has been a bigger step than he expected as the field's depth of talent is increasing year by year and you have to be on your A game all the time to pull off results.
Denning, who ran Suzuki's MotoGP team until the factory pulled out at the end of last season, says the competition in WSBK is stronger in WSBK this year by a significant degree but tempers that by adding his two riders, Leon Camier and John Hopkins, have been somewhat disadvantaged by a lack of outright power, and the latter suffering injuries.
"It’s actually been a bigger and more difficult step than we expected, to be honest. Entering as a wildcard at a UK round with a rider at the top of his game, as we’ve always had, be it Chris Walker, John Reynolds, Tom Sykes, or as we had last year, John Hopkins, is a very different story to getting a team, bike, tyres, and rider right over the course of a whole world championship," said Denning.
“As well as that, the level of competition this year in World Superbike, and the depth of competition too, is tougher than ever by a significant degree. There are teams this year who have gone from struggling last year, to being super competitive this year. There are a lot of very accomplished riders out there too, and you can be a tiny bit off your game, less than a second a lap off the best pace, and you’re still outside the top 16.
“You just look down the rider list of former, ultra competitive BSB riders, ex-MotoGP riders and world champions, and everyone’s riding like animals, fighting for the very last scraps on the table. If we’re a little bit off with the motorcycle on one day, or struggling with a single aspect, it’s easy to be a long way down the leader board.
“We have struggled with outright power, having had less time to develop the motor than some of the other teams, but we’ve also been hindered by the injuries to John. The injuries have meant that he has been a long way from his best, which in turn has meant we haven’t had the benchmark we expected to have for Leon to aim for.
"“It would be a lie to say we didn’t hope for a lot more in terms of result, but the GSX-R1000 is a hugely capable motorcycle, one that Leon freely admits is the best handling motorcycle he’s ever ridden, and one that he feels he can get away with murder on in terms of how much he can abuse the chassis and push. His feedback is that the machine is extremely user friendly, and it’s a bike that looks after the tyre very well and maintains the tyre until the end of the race.”