After watching factory rider Álvaro Bautista jump ship to Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, it looks like the shoe has finally dropped on Suzuki’s involvement in MotoGP for the 2012 season, as it is being reported that Rizla Suzuki team members were emailed Friday that the factory squad would not enter next year’s MotoGP Championship.
Suzuki had been handed an ultimatum by Dorna, demanding that the Japanese company make a decision on its 2012 involvement by Friday of last week. With nary an announcement coming forth, the signs in the tea leaves pointed to Rizla Suzuki’s departure from the series, which has been further confirmed today. Though Suzuki is said to be continuing its 1,000cc MotoGP testing program, reports peg the company’s return to GP racing as soon as 2014, if at all.
The issue seems to stem from the highest levels of Suzuki’s corporate management who, after seeing historically lackluster results in MotoGP, have begun to question the expenditure of racing in the premier motorcycle racing series. Though Rizla Suzuki, with Álvaro Bautista at the helm of the Suzuki GSV-R, has made considerable improvements this past year, especially the latter part of the 2011 season, the effort might be too little, too late.
While Suzuki has been rumored to be testing a 1,000cc MotoGP back in Japan, the existence of such a program is doubted by some in the MotoGP paddock. Regardless of its existence, with no budget to field the team and to continue development throughout the year, Suzuki’s hopes of GP racing on a true factory level seem to be out of reach for the Japanese company.
As MotoGP is sure to get a format revamp in 2013, whatever bike Suzuki is or is not working on would have to undergo further modification, and there is always the lingering possibility that Dorna will do away with the factory involvement altogether.
Source: MotoMatters; Photo: Rizla Suzuki