UPDATE: Álvaro Bautista has signed with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team for the 2012 MotoGP season. The Spaniard is not expect to have a factory support within the team.
Rizla Suzuki has announced today that rider Álvaro Bautista has left the factory Suzuki team for the 2012 season. It has not been announced where Bautista will race next next year, though best guesses would peg the Spaniard as headed to the LCR Honda squad. Certainly linked to this news, Randy de Puniet was given the opportunity to test the 2011 Rizla Suzuki GSV-R yesterday, and the Frenchman has already made some impressions.
Fourth fastest on yesterday’s time sheets, de Puniet has been keen to get out of the Pramac Ducati garage, and onto a more competitive package. With Bautista, de Puniet, and John Hopkins all playing musical chairs around LCR Honda and Rizla Suzuki, Bautista’s departure at least progresses the game forward. The big question still remains though, with Bautista leaving the Rizla Suzuki squad, does that signal another rider’s entry into the factory team, or does it mean the Japanese company’s departure from MotoGP racing?
Next year’s MotoGP Championship has been full of question marks for Suzuki, as the Japanese company has yet to commit to the 2012 season. Reportedly given an ultimatum by Dorna to make a decision by this Friday, if the Rizla Suzuki squad does race in 2012, they would likely start the season on their current 800cc machine. Dorna has reportedly also dictated a stipulation that if Suzuki does stay in MotoGP next season, the team would have to race a 1,000cc machine by the Brno round.
“I am very sad to be leaving Suzuki after the two great years that I have had here,” said Bautista. “It has been a great team to work in and I have learnt a lot of things from everyone in the team. It was a fantastic experience working with an English/Japanese team and we have become like a big family, except we have never had any arguments and no-one falls out with each other!”
“I want to thank everybody personally for the last two years, sometimes it has been difficult, but nobody ever gave up and I felt like I always had their full support and commitment. I don’t feel like I am leaving a team, but a group of friends that I hope I will know for a long time. I want to say a special thank-you to Tom, Paul, Ken san and Sahara san, and wish them and the rest of the team all the best for the future.”
Source: Rizla Suzuki