Suzuki have revealed yet another of MotoGP's worst-kept secrets (and the competition has been tough for that claim this year) at the Intermot motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany, officially confirming that they will be returning to MotoGP from next season, after an absence of three seasons. Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio unveiled the latest version of Suzuki's MotoGP bike - now dubbed GSX-RR - and announced that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will race for the team. At the same time, Suzuki also confirmed that Randy De Puniet will race as a wildcard on the bike at the final MotoGP round of the season at Valencia.
The official announcement had been a long time coming, despite the riders and team being an open secret. The wait had been down to a request from Suzuki headquarters at Japan, who had wanted to combine the team launch with the launch of Suzuki's 2015 road bike line up at the Intermot show. The presence of senior Suzuki staff at the launch was seen by the team as a powerful display of support by the Japanese factory.
More interestingly, the launch of the MotoGP team alongside the road bikes underlines Suzuki's view of the strength of MotoGP as a marketing tool. The rebranding of the bike as the GSX-RR provides a very strong link to Suzuki's GSX-R line of sports bikes, as is the decision to switch from a V4 to an inline four for the engine design. Suzuki's MotoGP project is now much more closely aligned with their road heritage.
The announcement that Randy De Puniet will race as a wildcard at Valencia is also proof of Suzuki's commitment to MotoGP. The Frenchman will give the GSX-RR its first race outing, while Espargaro and Viñales will test the bike from the Monday after the race, at the traditional post-race test. De Puniet is reported to be moving on to a role with Suzuki, testing the Michelins for the factory. He is also rumored to be in the frame as the second rider in the Voltcomm Suzuki team, alongside Alex Lowes.
Suzuki pulled out of MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season, when they did not have a 1000cc MotoGP machine ready to race when the new rules came into effect for 2012. Suzuki had been struggling more and more in the preceding years, cutting from two to just one rider for 2011, before pulling out altogether. Suzuki asked for permission to continue racing their 800cc GSV-R from 2012, but that request was turned down. After three years developing a new bike, they are ready to return to the premier class.
Below is the press release from Suzuki and further photos of the new bike:
SUZUKI ANNOUNCES 2015 MOTOGP PARTICIPATION
Team Suzuki Press Office – September 30.
Suzuki announces its participation in the world’s top motorcycle racing series Road Racing Grand Prix (MotoGP) from 2015.
Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced that it will participate in the MotoGP class of the world’s top motorcycle racing series, the FIM*1 Road Racing Grand Prix (MotoGP), from 2015, at the press conference of the INTERMOT International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bicycle Fair held in Cologne, Germany from 30 September to 5 October, 2014.
With the development of the MotoGP machine and team structure prepared, Suzuki has decided to participate in the MotoGP series from 2015, and announced its newly-developed MotoGP machine, the GSX-RR, team riders, and team structure. Also, prior to its participation, Suzuki will make a wildcard appearance at this season’s final race, the Valencia GP.
Suzuki had temporarily suspended its participation in MotoGP from 2012, but has been continuing with the machine development toward its return. Through MotoGP racing, Suzuki will develop more attractive products by giving technical feedback to the products, and improve the brand image.
MotoGP machine GSX-RR
The development of the GSX-RR was started in 2012 with the aim to achieve high performance in the MotoGP class, as well as to give technology feedback to production models such as the GSX-R range.
It utilises a newly-developed in-line four-cylinder engine that realizes a strong, flexible engine character, fuel efficiency, and durability at a high level.
The frame has a layout that keeps its width slim for both maneuverability and aerodynamic performances, and optimizes body strength and weight balance.
The aim was to develop a highly competitive MotoGP machine that can bring out the straightforward maneuverability developed over the years with the GSX-R.
Basic specification of the GSX-RR:
Overall length x width x height: 2,096mm x 720mm x 1,140mm.
Body weight: 160kg (based on FIM regulation).
Engine type: Water-cooled, four-stroke in-line four-cylinder, DOHC four-valve.
Maximum output: Over 169kw (230PS).
Frame type: Twin-spar aluminum.
Tyres (front/rear): 16.5in/16.5in.
Front suspension: Ohlins, inverted fork.
Rear suspension: Ohlins.
Brakes (front/rear): Carbon disk/steel disk, Brembo.
Team name: Team Suzuki MotoGP.
Team riders: Aleix ESPARGARO (Spain): currently racing in MotoGP/ Maverick VIÑALES (Spain): currently racing in Moto2.
Team Manager: Davide BRIVIO (Italy): current test team manager.