Around the time that Kawasaki pulled out of MotoGP, rumors persisted that Suzuki could also be on the verge of pulling out of the racing series as well. Indeed at the time, Suzuki had halted further development of the GSV-R, and the company seemed to be either circling the wagons or preparing to depart from the sport all-together. A number of sources inside Japan spoke of Suzuki withdrawing, but the Suzuki MotoGP team consistently denied the rumors. Those rumors now seem to be more than idle chatter around the water-cooler, and were in fact grounded in substantial truth. In an interview with Spanish site GPOne, Shinichi Sahara, head of Suzuki’s MotoGP team, makes it clear how close the team was to throwing in the towel.
“At around the same time that Kawasaki officially announced its withdrawal, Suzuki were also considering it as well. Why did we choose to stay? Because Hamamatsu is convinced that competition is in our DNA, and is important for our image. In the end, the final word was for our President, Osamu Suzuki.”
Sahara said that contracts that Suzuki had with Dorna played no part in the decision: “There were no contractual problems with Dorna,” he told GPOne. However, costs continue to be an important limiting factor in Suzuki’s MotoGP program, which means Suzuki is unlikely to be fielding extra bikes in the short term. “I can’t see more than two Suzukis on the grid in the future. But the long term could be different, of course.”
As for the cost-cutting measures put forward by the MSMA, Sahara does not believe that all of the proposals have merit. Testing, especially, is a problem. “Think of the Monday tests after a Grand Prix, for example. These are the cheapest solution for development, but the proposals want to remove them. We’ll adapt, if necessary, but having only two bikes on the grid means that we will suffer more than the others.”