The Yoshimura SERT Motul team have been testing at Le Mans in France for the first of two shakedowns before the 2021 Endurance World Championship begins next month.

The private test saw Gregg Black and Kazuki Watanabe lapping the Bugatti Circuit for three days with the new GSX-R1000R machinery that had recently arrived from Japan.

And despite global restrictions due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the test welcomed Yoshimura SERT Motul Team Director Yohei Kato and Watanabe – his first time riding the famous circuit – being given the green light to travel from Japan to join the team’s first European test.

Watanabe had already tested the new 2021 GSX-R1000 last month in Japan before the machinery was shipped to the SERT headquarters at Le Mans to Team Manager Damien Saulnier.

Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon weren’t present as Suzuki MotoGP Test rider Guintoli was in Qatar for the 2021 Team Suzuki Ecstar launch and six days of testing. But all will be present at the next Le Mans test.

Suzuki’s reigning World Champions were joined by some other EWC teams over the week in preparation for the final official test there at the end of the month, and then the series opener on April 17-18th; the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Yoshimura and SERT technical staff tested the new 2021 setup for the first time, the GSX-R1000R now using Bridgestone tyres, and the new team remain positive after this initial shakedown.

Said Team Manager Damien Saulnier: “The machines have been prepared in Japan. Suzuki and Yoshimura have invested heavily in the development of the bikes.”

Rider Gregg Black confirmed that opinion right after his first session. “It’s still a GSX-R, but with a whole lot of little changes. The electronics have evolved and they make for a good package with the Bridgestone tyres. The bike is easier to handle and more comfortable too as a result of little things like the repositioned footpegs.”

Team Director Yohei Kato, who has collaborated with SERT over many years: “Suzuki and Yoshimura have developed the bike year by year to win the Suzuka 8 Hours. This bike is based on specifications from the Yoshimura bike for Suzuka. Since last year, we have been working with SERT to adapt and develop the bike for 24 hours.”