Suzuki has at last confirmed what we have all suspected since the middle of this year, and what veteran journalist Michael Scott reported in GPWeek: The Japanese factory is to pull out of the MotoGP series from 2012. The press release expresses their intention to keep working on their 1000cc MotoGP machine, with a view to returning to the series in 2014.
Though the optimism expressed is laudable, making a return to the series after pulling out is hard enough under normal circumstances, but given the combination of the global financial crisis, the earthquake and tsunami back in March, and the continuing corporate difficulties over the 19.9% stake in the company sold to Volkswagen, coming back to MotoGP could pose serious difficulties. Added to this are the rule changes currently proposed and expected. The move to 1000cc in 2012 has long been known, but Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta's announcement that he wants everyone racing under a single set of rules, including a rev limit and a spec ECU, means that waiting could be the smart thing to do. Once the rules have been settled, then it could be time to start work on a bike for racing in MotoGP.
There has been some speculation that Suzuki could also enter via the CRT route, but when asked by MotoMatters.com, Rizla Suzuki boss Paul Denning said that the prospect of racing as a CRT held no interest for the Japanese factories. The point of Grand Prix racing was to be able to develop technologies, and merely developing their roadgoing GSX-R engine in MotoGP was not sufficient motivation. However, given that the 1000cc engine Suzuki is working on for MotoGP in 2014 is an inline four rather than a V4, some trickle down of technology would be possible.
Suzuki's official withdrawal from the series greatly strengthens Ezpeleta's hand in his negotiations with the MSMA. Ezpeleta has been holding off on renewing the contract between Dorna and the MSMA giving the manufacturers control of the technical regulations of MotoGP, and Suzuki's withdrawal cuts the number of MSMA members to just three, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. After the departure of Kawasaki mid-contract, and now with Suzuki leaving at the end of the current contract, both citing the incredible cost of racing in the series, Ezpeleta is in no mood to listen to the factories any longer. Suzuki's withdrawal is the nail in the coffin of the old way of working in MotoGP, and a new era, where the teams and the organizers dominate, rather than the factories, is at hand.
The official press release from Suzuki appears below:
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF MOTOGP RACING
Team Suzuki Press Office - November 18.
November 18, 2011 17:00 JPN Time ( GMT +9 )
Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend temporarily its participation in FIM Road Racing Grand Prix MotoGP from 2012.
This suspension is to cope with tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese Yen and repeated natural disasters.
Having an eye to returning to MotoGP in 2014, Suzuki will now focus on developing a competitive new racing machine for that class.
Suzuki will continue motocross racing activity and support of road racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles, by obtaining FIM homologation and co-operation with the supplier of its development racing kit parts.
November 18, 2011
Suzuki Motor Corporation