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Pepsi colors appeared on the Suzuki in 1988. It was still not a match for the opposition over a season but it did become a Grand Prix winner.

"The big jump in '89 was when we got the counter rotating engine. We lost a lot of weight everywhere, the chassis became stiffer because the engine could be solidly mounted. The engine had the development from the previous season so it was getting to be quite powerful towards the end of '88 but that was helped by the weight loss for '89. It all sort of flowed together."

"The bike slowly got a little more refined in '88 but at the end of the year the chassis needed a lot of work as well as the engine. Stiffness was the main problem. The suspension was also being developed and we got the upside down forks in '89 which was another step forward in stiffness. I think we kind of got straightened out for '89 really."

"1988 to '89 was a big change. The V probably closed up a bit because the early engine was a big thing. I think we started '89 with the best all around bike. We were 118kg, we were just about the lightest thing for '89. The weight distribution didn't change very much, but the whole mass being reduced changed a lot of things. Even at the enf of '89 it was still very competitive though there was not that much development during the season that I can remember."


'89 was a nearly year for the team, Kevin and the bike were both awesomely fast but there were imperfections with the man and the machine. Kevin's three falls were matched by three mechanical failures and as Tonge recalls they were caused by three different problems. " Hockenheim it ran a crankshaft bearing, it s the first time we had run a crank."

"Assen was another learning one. The fuel tap position meant that it basically ran out of gas with a lap and a bit to go. There was actually enough fuel on the tank to do the race but the fuel tap position wasn't in a good place to drain it all. So it ran out of fuel and holed a piston. It just went bang, the engine was destroyed, you wouldn't think that it had holed a piston first to look at it."

"We always used to have big problems with the fuel, it had as much fuel on board as we were allowed to carry. On paper it was fine but through the fast left behind the pits the centrifugal force flung the fuel away from the tap so that was it."

"In Sweden we broke a piston pin. That was the first ever, we only had it once again and they put more material in the piston pin. '89 was a very lightweight hike, everything like that was super light."

Despite the problems Tonge feels it was a turning point for the team. "That was the first really good learning year with the right bike and everything." Unfortunately in trying to change up several gears for the road to success that they had found Suzuki hit trouble as they prepared for 1990.

The engine that Suzuki had designed to replace the XR75 remains secret to this day. "The XR76 that they ran on the bench was never run on the track because it wasn't reliable, it just broke all the time. It was completely different, we have never seen it since."

"Their aim was to come out with the new engine as a big surprise for the '90 season. They were trying to solve all the crankshaft reliability problems and everything else in one go and it actually backfired on them. There wasn't enough time to solve the problems so they just reverted to what they knew."

"So they ended up doing just minor engine cylinder work to the '89 motor for '90 and got a little bit more chassis stiffness. We didn't have any one big problem but the stiffness was the thing that we were always looking at and generally trying to get more power and flexibility throughout the range."

"'90 was a funny year because I think Kevin was playing his new plan and going for the good solid finishes which he did in Japan but then in America he realised that he had a good chance to win. He was chasing Wayne around for the whole race, Wayne had a little better setup but Kevin thought he could do him and got flicked off coming out of turn eleven. He came back and had a good third at Jerez considering he had a broken wrist."


"we didn't have that many new parts throughout that year. I remember saying that we had the same cylinders and pipes from the start of '89 and eventually got some new pipes. They were getting long in the tooth development wise," says Tonge but though the Suzuki did not have the edge on power and speed that it had in '89 there was as much to be gained in improving the rolling chasses ans the way that it handles and made use of the power.

"We had been playing around with suspension quite a bit. Kevin's riding style means that he really rides the rear. That again. Whereas in '89 we could be fastest everywhere, that showed by the amount of poles we got." is why he is quite spectacular in as much as he stops, turn and then uses a lot of acceleration rather than keeping up his mid turn speed. He tends to brake hard and get out not quite the same extent as Gardner but he is more like that than he is Niall and Alex."

"We had been playing around trying to get grip but I think for '90 everyone else had caught up in all respects. Mick was coming good at all the end of the year, Rainey had got on with the Michelins pretty well. Our bike just didn't excel, on a good day it was OK but the deficits were starting to show

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