Features 2 Feb 2018

Countdown: Waters' Suzuki MotoGP experience

Five factors that made the ASBK champion's shakedown a special one.

The opportunity to test a MotoGP bike is rarer than ever these days, so when Suzuki offered reigning Australian Superbike champion Josh Waters the chance to head over to Malaysia for a short run on its 2017 model Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR, it was a special moment in his career. CycleOnline.com.au caught up with Waters upon return home to gather his thoughts on the unique experience at Sepang within this special edition of Countdown.

Image: Supplied.

5. The opportunity:
When offered the opportunity to ride a current MotoGP bike by a factory, it’s a big deal. And for the ever-humble Waters, he was in shock when the call came through as a reward for his third ASBK crown with Suzuki: “I still remember getting the call and being asked if I wanted to do it, which was a huge shock and a pretty special feeling to even get the chance to ride a modern day grand prix bike, so I was really taken back,” he said. “It was really cool to have the ASBK series and our championship held in the regard alongside MotoAmerica with Toni Elias and the Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop, who also had the opportunity.”

4. First impressions:
So, rolling out of pit-lane for the first time, what did Waters think? “I was the first to ride it, so I was nervous as… I thought I was going to stall it when taking off and I didn’t know what to expect,” continued the 31-year-old. “It was a huge shock though how smooth it was and relatively easy to ride, but it was extremely difficult to ride physically. The biggest thing I was shocked by was the power and brakes, it was pretty awesome. It probably would have been better to ride a different bike to learn the track, but it was still cool. I had 30 minutes to do what we wanted and did four outings, so it was good.”

3. Superbike comparison:
“It wasn’t as different as I expected it to be,” Waters explained when comparing the GSX-RR to his regular GSX-R1000R domestic Superbike mount. Standard Michelin tyres were fitted however, rather than the top-spec MotoGP control tyres, which made for a different feel in itself. “It just did everything really, really good. The thing was though, we didn’t have the tyres they usually use in the bike because we were just there for the experience. Still, it did everything amazing and I was really surprised.”

Image: Supplied.

2. Power:
Suzuki indicates that its MotoGP entry has in advance of 235 horsepower, but it was the delivery that really had Waters in awe afterwards: “The bike was in a safe mode when we rode it, but fifth and sixth gears were at full power from what they said. It just kept revving, kept pulling and it was a big shock to me. Another thing was, I have never ridden a bike with such a smooth throttle connection – it was amazing in that aspect. I’d love to ride it at a circuit I knew, because it was just surprising how easy it ended up.”

1. Handling:
“The seating position has more room than my GSX-R, which was a surprise because visually the bike looks quite small,” he recalled. “The tank is tiny though and so thin, so it was difficult to grab onto something under brakes with my legs. It was comfortable though, the footpegs were just like my bike and that kind of thing.” Waters said it was in the form that Andrea Iannone rides, so that was relatively straightforward to adapt to: “It was the was Iannone has it, so there was a lot of room to move. Like I said, it was the brakes that were so impressive and it’s just so physical to ride – I rate those riders even more now. I only did 17 laps, but I was fatigued from braking and it was so different.”