Is Suzuki ending its MotoGP project to focus on motocross?

SUZUKI’s decision to leave the MotoGP World Championship at the end of 2022 has created an incredibly high mountain of questions.

Most of these questions will probably never be answered. Such a question is, simply, why? Why is Suzuki, which has arguably the best bike on the MotoGP grid, with one of the sport’s best team managers in Livio Suppo, and a rider line-up that is arguably the strongest in the championship in Joan Mir and Alex? Rins, decide to leave the championship he won 18 months ago and has a good chance of winning this year?

Well, we might have our answer, courtesy of PulpMX Show.

At this week’s PulpMX ShowSteve Matthes said: “I got a text, from someone who would know, that Suzuki went hard after AC (Adam Cianciarulo) for next year, and they are put money back in [motocross] races.”

Suzuki’s attempts to sign Cianciarulo away from his longtime home of Kawasaki have obviously failed, as Cianciarulo has reportedly re-signed to stay aboard a KX450 for 2023. But, that the attempt was made is a sign that Suzuki could make a serious attempt to return to motocross.

Suzuki left the Motocross World Championship as a factory effort in 2018, and the closure of the JGRMX team at the end of 2020 meant the end of any type of Suzuki factory effort in America, with the Twisted Tea HEP Suzuki team taking over from JGR since 2021 as the first American Suzuki team. But, if Suzuki is moving for a big name like Cianciarulo, their intentions must be serious.

MotoGP is a very expensive sport. The technology is at a level not replicated in any other two-wheeled series, and that combined with the number of people who have to be paid, and for whom accommodation, food, etc. must be paid, and the costs become monumental. Now Suzuki is probably about to find out just how expensive it is to quit MotoGP, both financially and legally (which aren’t mutually exclusive either), judging by yesterday’s statement (3 May 2022) from Dorna.

However, if it saves money in the long run, maybe Suzuki is willing to redirect that money into other areas, like superbike racing or motocross. Perhaps superbikes and motocross can be competitively supported by Suzuki while saving money on what it costs to race in MotoGP. If so, then perhaps a new factory motocross effort won’t be the only positive result of Suzuki’s exit from MotoGP.

And, of course, while there are rumors of a U.S.-based revitalization for Suzuki’s motocross efforts, there’s nothing at all about a European equivalent yet. If it’s a question of cost, then America is ultimately the most lucrative market, so maybe there will still be nothing from Suzuki in MXGP. However, it is also possible to adopt the “no news is good news” point of view.

Suzuki has never been MotoGP’s greatest manufacturer, and its premier class triumph in 2020 will always stand as one of the greatest examples of “punch above your weight”. It will be interesting to see what the Hamamatsu brand does next, and if that means they are back to factory level in motocross, then at least their MotoGP outing can be viewed in a positive light.

About Frances R. Smith

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