The rumor that Rizla would be withdrawing its sponsorship from Suzuki in MotoGP has been rolling around the paddock for some time. The rumors started after Rizla announced that it would be withdrawing its backing from the Crescent Suzuki British Superbike team, which is part of the same program run by Paul Denning and Jack Valentine, who run the Suzuki MotoGP team.
While this speculation has been a common theme for paddock gossip since the latter half of 2008, the news that Rizla will be withdrawing its sponsorship from Suzuki’s MotoGP team is moving rapidly from the realm of speculation to the world of fact.
Italian magazine Sport Moto is reporting this speculation now as fact. According to them, Rizla will withdraw funding from Suzuki’s MotoGP team, cutting into the teams bottom line to the tune of 3.5 million euros per year.
It is impossible to talk about Rizla pulling out of Suzuki and not in the same breath talk about Suzuki leaving MotoGP. This possibility has been flatly denied both by Team Suzuki and MotoGP. The lost 3.5 million euros is a paltry sum to the factory team, with reports showing that it likely barely covered the salaries of Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi.
Ironically, the rest of the paddock may be relieved to see Rizla depart as a sponsor. Not because of the blow to Suzuki, but because it was widely felt in MotoGP that Suzuki had given Rizla a title sponsorship role at a rock bottom price. The paltry sum asked by Suzuki has dragged down the price that other teams could demand from sponsors for similar title sponsorship. Now with that sponsors precedent gone, teams in theory should be able to command more money for the title sponsorship advertising package.