Suzuki recently took the motorcycle racing world by complete surprise.
The Japanese motorcycle manufacturer announced that it intends to quit the MotoGP championship after the ongoing 2022 season.
Industry reports emerged in early May that Suzuki had gathered its MotoGP racing team for an urgent meeting. At the meeting, the company informed the team that it would not continue racing once the current season is over.
Confirmation of the decision came on May 12, when Suzuki publicly announced that it was discussing an exit from MotoGP with the championship’s owner Dorna Sports.
“Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending Suzuki’s participation in MotoGP at the end of 2022,” the company said in a statement.
Suzuki cited the current economic situation in the wider automotive world due to COVID-19 as the reason for the decision. The pandemic has forced Suzuki to reconsider its priorities and decrease “racing-related costs” to develop new technologies.
“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our Suzuki Ecstar Team, to all those who have supported Suzuki's motorcycle racing activities for many years, and to all Suzuki fans who have given us their enthusiastic support,” the company added.
Suzuki’s announcement came utterly out of the blue. Suzuki only re-entered MotoGP in 2015 and had made no earlier indication that it planned to quit racing.
In fact, Suzuki has faired well in the competition. Just in 2020, it took the MotoGP championship when Spanish rider Joan Mir raced to victory.
In an interview, Mir expressed his frustration with the situation.
“I’m angry for the decision someone took,” he told Motorsport.com.
“The team is so great, it’s one of the special teams in the paddock—the people that work here make it so special. It’s a manufacturer that normally fights for championships every year since I was here,” Mir added.
Mir is reportedly talking to Honda about their plans for the 2023 season, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
But the Suzuki decision doesn’t only impact Mir. The status of their entire racing team is currently up in the air, as is the outlook of the MotoGP competition for 2023.
According to reports, Luxemburg-Italian Moto3 racing team Leopard Racing has expressed its interest in replacing Suzuki for the 2023 MotoGP season. Incidentally, Mir used to race with Leopard and won the Moto3 championship with them in 2017.
Not a Solo Decision
Despite their clear intention to quit, things may not be so easy for Suzuki. Dorna Sports said that the bike manufacturer can’t make the decision to drop out all on its own.
“Dorna Sports has officially contacted the factory [Suzuki] in order to remind them that the conditions of their contract to race in MotoGP do not allow for them to take this decision unilaterally,” Dorna said in a statement.
Should Suzuki and the MotoGP organizer come to an agreement, though, Dorna added that it would decide the “ideal number of riders and teams” for the 2023 season.
“Dorna continues to receive high levels of interest from a number of both official factories and independent teams looking to join the MotoGP grid as the sport continues to set a global example of close competition, innovation, and entertainment, reaching hundreds of millions of fans around the world,” said Dorna.
No matter how the situation ends up playing out, it seems very likely we won’t see Suzuki on MotoGP tracks in 2023. But the race must go on, and hopefully we can look forward to new and exciting competitors in the series.