As widely expected, Suzuki today announced that Loris Capirossi would be staying with the Rizla Suzuki team for 2010. Capirossi himself had dropped hints over the past couple of weeks that he would be renewing his contract with Suzuki, tacitly acknowledging that he had signed in both the Italian and English-speaking press.
Capirex' new contract is just for a single year, to act as the lead development rider on the Suzuki and as a mentor to Spanish rookie Alvaro Bautista. 2010 is likely to be Capirossi's final season in the series, as the 36-year-old Italian has hinted that his retirement is now not far off. Capirossi had previously threatened to either retire early, or jump ship to another manufacturer, while development of the Suzuki seemed to languish. But with the new parts the bike has received over the past few weeks, the performance of the GSV-R has improved, taking it much nearer to being a competitive proposition.
The announcement of Capirossi's signing contained an acknowledgement that this meant the end of the line for Suzuki and Chris Vermeulen in MotoGP. The press release thanked Vermeulen for his commitment and his hard work, but Vermeulen's results have failed to impress Suzuki's bosses this season, and the decision to drop Vermeulen in favor of Bautista was a relatively simple one to take. The decision is rather painful, however, as Vermeulen remains the only rider to win on a four-stroke Suzuki in the 8 years of competing.
Vermeulen will now redouble his efforts to remain in the class, and is hoping to secure a ride with the Tech 3 Yamaha squad, though he faces some very stiff competition for the ride there. If that fails, he is certain to find a very good seat on a factory machine in World Superbikes.