Several reports suggest team Suzuki members have been briefed on the new shock in Monday’s post-race practice at Jerez, despite Suzuki previously sign to stay in MotoGP until at least 2026.
Suzuki remains silent, which would not happen if such reports were false.
Suzuki’s second withdrawal from MotoGP (having “suspended” its involvement from 2012 to 2014 due to the financial crisis) would also leave Joan Mir and co-winner Alex Rins in need of a new team for 2023.
Both have been Suzuki riders since joining the premier class, Rins in 2017 and Mir in 2019.
Although without a win last season, Suzuki and Mir still finished third in the world championship, behind only Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).
Rins, who suffered a series of nightmarish racing errors last year, took the GSX-RR’s only podiums so far this season to claim fourth at the start of the standings, two places ahead of Mr.
Suzuki, which hired Livio Suppo as its new team manager just months ago, is believed to be the first manufacturer to pull out of MotoGP since its previous hiatus in 2011.
The factory exit – which is expected to be officially confirmed late Tuesday afternoon and presumably for financial reasons – is also expected to reduce the sport to five manufacturers: Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Aprilia.
However, when Kawasaki sought to leave MotoGP before the end of its contract with Dorna, in 2008, the factory was forced to to ride an unbranded ‘Hayate’ bike for Marco Melandri the following season as a compromise.
Kawasaki hasn’t returned to MotoGP since and if Suzuki quits mid-contract, the factory might just get a nice welcome if they ever want to return in the future.
What now for Joan Mir and Alex Rins?
Fortunately for Mir and Rins, most places on the 2023 grid are yet to be determined, with only Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Yamaha) being officially confirmed.
Although Yamaha is now confident of keeping Quartararo for another two years, that still means a Honda, Ducati, KTM and two Aprilia factory team seats are available.
With Aprilia and Suzuki being the only manufacturers currently without a satellite team, the obvious answer to keeping the grid numbers in 2023 would be the formation of a second Aprilia-backed team.
How Suzuki announced its exit from MotoGP in 2011
After months of rumours, Suzuki confirmed its previous exit from MotoGP with a brief and carefully worded press release at the end of 2011 which spoke of a decision to “temporarily suspend its participation”.
Above all, and unlike Kawasaki, it also included an expected return date. Could Suzuki take a similar stance this time around?
“Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to temporarily suspend its participation in the FIM MotoGP Road Racing Grand Prix from 2012.
“This suspension is intended to deal with difficult circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of the Japanese yen and repeated natural disasters.”
“With a view to returning to MotoGP in 2014, Suzuki will now focus on developing a new competitive racing machine for this class.
“Suzuki will continue its motocross racing activities and support for road racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles, obtaining FIM homologation and cooperating with the supplier of its racing development kit parts.”
Ultimately, Suzuki’s full-time return to MotoGP, with the GSX-RR replacing the previous GSV-R and a new racing team assembled by Davide Brivio, was pushed back a year to 2015.
Suzuki’s 500cc/MotoGP World Champions
1976, 1977 – Barry Sheene
1981 – Marco Lucchinelli
1982 – Franco Uncini
1993 – Kevin Schwantz
2000 – Kenny Roberts Jnr
2020 – Joan Mir