Five days after they announced they would be pulling out of Moto2 for the 2018 season, Forward Racing are dragging them back in. Today, the Forward Racing team officially announced that they have signed a deal to race Suter chassis for 2018. Forward will be fielding Eric Granado and Stefano Manzi for the coming season.
The deal came about after Forward tested both Suter and Kalex chassis at the Jerez Moto2 test a couple of weeks ago. Granado and Manzi were fast on the Suter, and after supply problems with Kalex and KTM, the decision was made to proceed with Suter. This took some persuading, as Suter had to be convinced to change their mind. But after discussions between the company founder Eskil Suter and CEO Maurizio Bäumle, Suter decided to step back into the series.
Suter's decision to return to Moto2 five days after leaving was explained by Eskil Suter in an interview with the German-language website Speedweek. The decision had been poorly handled, Suter acknowledged, but he saw possibilities for 2019 and beyond, when Triumph is due to take over supply of the Moto2 engines. Suter's plan is to use Granado and Manzi - both young, but both with some experience of Moto2 already (a year with Sky VR46 for Manzi, and racing both in the World Championship and in the FIM CEV for Granado) to help develop the chassis for the Triumph engine.
Forward may not be the only team Suter end up supplying. There is also a chance that Kiefer Racing, due to continue next year but in talks with a Russian backer over finance, could continue with Suter in 2018. Kiefer, with Domi Aegerter and Sandro Cortese, are in discussions with KTM for a chassis for 2018, but they could still return. This would be good news for Suter, as Aegerter proved himself to be competitive on the bike in 2017. Dynavolt Intact, who were originally scheduled to be running Suter chassis in 2018, will be sticking with Kalex instead.
The deal is also crucial for the survival of Forward Racing in the class. The supply issues with Kalex were a result of the reputation Forward owner Giovanni Cuzari has gained for bills going unpaid. The appointment of team manager Milena Koerner has helped turn that situation around, with bills being paid off, but it takes a long time to restore trust once it has been lost. Forward is not the only team to have a reputation for not paying on time: late or non-payment of bills is commonplace, especially among Moto2 and Moto3 teams, which tend to be run on a much less solid financial basis.
The Forward Racing press release appears below:
Forward Racing with Suter Moto2 Machines towards the future
The Forward Racing Team is happy to announce the participation in the 2018 World Championship with Suter Moto2 Machines. The ambitious project started with a very positive first test on track in Jerez de la Frontera where Eric Granado and Stefano Manzi had the chance to compare the 2017 Kalex and the Suter MMX2 as used during the past championship. Both riders were immediately able to post competitive lap times and recognize the high potential of Swiss Motorcycle, which lead to the decision to race with Suter machinery during the next season. The team around Giovanni Cuzari, is now eagerly waiting for the arrival of the new 2018 motorcycles in order to prepare in the best possible way for the upcoming season.
This collaboration is not restricted to be a simple material supply, but includes a stimulating test program especially, but not exclusively, in view of the preparation of the 2019 World Championship. At the same time, it marks a return to the roots because Suter has been the first supplier during the initial year of Moto2. Moreover, Suter Industries is one of only two engineering companies in the Moto2 World Championship capable to realize a complete motorcycle in house. The structure presents besides a large engineering department and an in-house production machinery setup 5 modern engine development test benches, plus 48 employees with vital know-how for a successful project development. For all these reasons the partnership between Suter and the Forward Racing Team will not only create an all Swiss combination, but might be a winning one in future.
Giovanni Cuzari - Team Owner
“I'm very happy to work again with Suter Industries, which were already a vital part at the beginning of our Moto2 experience. This is a return to the origins; looking back to the past I see not only the same bike supplier but also Milena Koerner, who started the Moto2 experience with us. I still have very good memories of these years, the start of everything, a period of hard work that has rewarded us with fantastic results. During my latest visit to the headquarters, 7 years after my last trip to Turbenthal, I saw great progress and a lot of investments made by this company and I think that Suter Industries is the only engineering in the championship that could bring important updates race by race.”