That Suzuki is considering a return to MotoGP in 2014 is well-documented, with talks still ongoing about the terms on which the Japanese factory will make a return. More surprising is the news from Italy, reported on GPOne.com, that Davide Brivio, former team manager of Valentino Rossi, is in line to manage the team running Suzuki's return.
According to reports both on GPOne.com and Moto.it, in a story by Giovanni Zamagni, the news was broken in the Italian TV show Griglia di Partenza (Starting Grid), by Max Temporali. Suzuki, it is reported, will make a return to MotoGP in 2014, with a team to be based in Italy and run by Brivio.
The news is unexpected. At Ducati's launch at Wrooom in January, Carmelo Ezpeleta had already explained that factories wishing to enter MotoGP would not be allowed to run their own teams, but would have to link up with existing teams in the paddock. That decision, made to ensure factories commit to MotoGP for the long term, and not just for a single year, was widely interpreted to mean that Suzuki would make their return to MotoGP with the Aspar squad, who will be competing in 2013 as a CRT team with Aprilia once again. Aspar has a some history with Suzuki: when Juan 'Aspar' Martinez was considering entering MotoGP, alongside his already highly successful 250cc and 125cc teams, the Spaniard was in intensive negotiations with Suzuki to run at least one satellite bike in the Aspar team. Furthermore, Aspar rider Randy De Puniet has been secured as a test rider for Suzuki (sources in France suggest that De Puniet has multiple tests with Suzuki lined up this year), making Aspar taking on the Suzuki team a logical next step.
But Italian media believes otherwise. They have Brivio running the Suzuki operation from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, which is also home to Yamaha's MotoGP team just outside Monza. According to GPOne.com, multiple sources inside the paddock have confirmed that Brivio has been approached for the job.
Brivio is an experienced team manager. Brivio was instrumental in bringing Valentino Rossi to Yamaha, and acted as the Italian's team manager throughout his period at the Japanese factory. Brivio left Yamaha along with Rossi, turning instead to working with Rossi's VR46 merchandise and clothing operation. Despite Brivio's close relationship with Rossi - he was present at every race during Rossi's period with Ducati, despite not having an official function inside Ducati Corse - Rossi is not thought to have any involvement with Brivio's decision to run the Suzuki team.
An announcement is not believed to be imminent, as testing is still well underway - Nobuatsu Aoki is testing Suzuki's new inline four cylinder machine, first spied in May last year - and Suzuki needs approval for their entry. Suzuki had been waiting for a stable set of rules to be announced for MotoGP, and with Dorna announcing that the rules already agreed for 2014 will remain unchanged for three years, 2014 is the first opportunity for them to make a return. Suzuki representatives had met with Dorna at the Brno round of MotoGP last year, where they had asked to be allowed to enter for just a single season. That request was denied, Suzuki being told that they had to sign a contract for three years if they wanted to make a comeback to the paddock. It now appears that Suzuki is ready to make that commitment.
If Suzuki do make a return to MotoGP, the seats will be much in demand among the riders. Ben Spies had already been linked with Suzuki, having raced for the manufacturer in the US for several years before heading to World Superbikes and then MotoGP. And Cal Crutchlow has also made no secret of his desire for a factory ride. That rules out both Honda and Yamaha, where the factory riders are locked in for at least two seasons, leaving Ducati and Suzuki as potential options for 2014. And with Randy De Puniet testing the new Suzuki, the Frenchman will have some claim to continue to develop and race the bike when it enters the series.