March 26, 2005
Suzuki's Endurance Racing Team will start their assault on the 2005 World Endurance Championship at Assen in Holland on Easter Monday as one of the favourites in the hunt for the title.
The SERT Suzuki Castrol team of Vincent Philippe and new team member Keiichi Kitagawa (pictured) have one goal. And that's to win the five-round series.
Said Kitagawa: "I really want to win the championship and especially Suzuka this year and I know we can do it. It's very important for both me and Suzuki to win; important for me because I have never won the 8 Hour, and important for Suzuki because it's the 20th anniversary of the GSX-R this year."
Talking about the new 2005 GSX-R1000K5 Suzuki, Vincent said: "The biggest differences are in the engine; there's more power and it's easier to control. This year we have enough power; not too much, but enough. The bike is also shorter, but that's not a good change for me. I had no confidence in the front end to start with - and we've only had three days of testing before this race - but we will see how it goes when qualifying starts. I think it will be easier for me this year because I have a very good team mate. Keiichi and I are on the same level."
Kitagawa added: "Doing two races with Suzuki Castrol last year made me think about doing the full World Endurance Championship and here I am. The team is very French - the conversations and the cooking - so you could say I am having difficulties, but having fun! It's easy working with Vincent. We use nearly the same set-up for the bike; I am more experienced, so I am perhaps more relaxed about settings and can ride around the small differences between our set-ups."
The Assen 500km race is run on the shorter version of the famous Dutch TT Circuit, with competitors having to complete 129 laps of the track and two compulsory rider change and refuelling pitstops.
Practice and Qualifying starts today, Saturday. Easter Sunday is a day of rest and exhibitions, and the race takes place on Easter Monday supported by National and European races plus the Dutch Stunt Championship. The usual endurance attractions and sideshows will keep the crowds entertained and there will be a pit-walk before the start of the race.
Suzuki Castrol's main rivals include Yamaha Austria, who have recruited consistent podium finisher Gwen Giabbani and Yamaha Phase One Endurance, who have recruited World Superbike rider Warwick Nowland.
Italian Team X-One has switched from Benelli to Yamaha, while Team 76 has switched from Yamaha to Suzuki Austria Team 76 on a GSX-R1000K5. Aprilia makes a welcome return to the championship, bringing the number of manufacturers represented in the championship to seven.
Thirty four teams will start the race at Assen, with competitors drawn from 18 countries.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office