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

  • Beary

    Good luck to Alvaro ! He deserves more than being an also-ran. Hope he gets a Honda.

  • Dawg

    It’s a shame Alvaro is leaving Suzuki he seemed to getting on well with the bike in the last few races. The bike is obviously handling well now and they seem to have decent pace.

    John Hopkins has been racing brilliantly in British Superbikes and seems to have real fire in his belly so would be a good choice for Suzuki.

  • Butch

    Word is he’s signed with Gresini Honda, not LCR.

  • 2ndclass
  • AC

    Bautista is a great rider and seems like he had a great off-track personality as well. Marco is irreplacable, but I do think Bautista will fit well within the Gresini team.

    I was actually hoping to see him stay with Suzuki…hopefully, with a greater push from Suzuki to actually win in the sport. And that’s coming from a Ducati guy.

  • irksome

    The guy does an amazing job racing on an underfunded bike and you illustrate his career move with a picture of him getting pushed out of a gravel trap? Really?

  • 76

    Graveltrap pic is alittle questionable

  • Sorry for partying.

  • Dr. Gellar

    Alvaro likely did the best with what he could with the Suzuki, and he deserves kudos for that. He seems like a really good guy too.

    That being said, I don’t think the pic is that inappropriate. The two times I’ve seen him race at Laguna Seca in MotoGP, that is exactly where he finished…in the gravel trap.

  • Beary

    Agree, pic of him in the gravel is entirely innappropriate.

    Use a pic of Abraham or Crutchlow in a gravel trap for a ‘Rookie of the Year’ article instead :)

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  • SBPilot

    Reports are saying HRC wants a “northern” European rider like Bradl and would support such a rider if he were to race for HRC (ala on the LCR bike). Which suggests Alvaro would not get factory support and if anything, Bradl would get some limited factory support. On the other hand, a lot depends on how well the riders do too. I’m sure if Alvaro was doing top 6’s next year early on HRC would reconsider leaving him as the guy in the dust waiting on updates.

    What is more intriguing is that Randy DePuniet didn’t test the Suzuki the second day…and no word on Hopper either. Meaning, what is going on at Suzuki anyway….

  • Jake Fox

    Let’s see. He crashed out of his last 3 races, DNF 5 times this season, and never placed higher than 5th. Yeah, I think Jensen is spot on with his photo choice.

  • Beary

    Disagree Jake Fox. Bautista’s feedback and ability is one of the main reasons Suzuki has made such strides this year.