We reported to you earlier in the month that Rizla was withdrawing its sponsorship from the Suzuki MotoGP team. Those rumors seemed all but confirmed when Suzuki showed up to the Sepang testing in the traditional Suzuki racing livery, instead of the usual Rizla powder blue. Things are afoot in the Suzuki camp according to Loris Capirossi. The Italian rider has told GPOne that Rizla has signed a new contract with Suzuki for 2009. According to Capirossi, the deal was done after the Sepang tests, where the Italian and his Australian team mate Chris Vermeulen set some outstanding times.
Tim Walpole, the press spokesman for the team, denied that any deal had been finalized, stating that “Loris is probably jumping the gun on this one. We’re still in discussions with Rizla, but no deal has been signed. The discussions are taking place in a very positive atmosphere, and we’re pretty sure we’ll come to an agreement.”
Losing the Rizla sponsorship was a big blow to Suzuki team, but was cause for celebration in the rest of the MotoGP paddock. Critics had long stated 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. We’ll have to see if this is the case the second time around for Suzuki and Rizla.