As we said yesterday, there’s been no official word from Suzuki as of November 14, but the Italian racing web site GPWeek.com is reporting that a decision has finally been made that the company will not participate in the 2012 world championship.
GPWeek further says that team manager Paul Denning has e-mailed team members with the news saying that the factory hoped to return in 2014.
That reduces the manufacturers involved in the premier class to three – Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha – making the so-called Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) even more critical to the series than they were before. More entries are being received almost daily, so the chances of decent grids looks decent, although there will definitely be an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ league on track together.
Here’s what we do know at this point.
The factory squad returns unchanged, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden both in the last year of current contracts. There’s an entirely new frame, a more-or-less conventional twin-spar type; that’s about the last-chance gasp at trying to eliminate the handling problems that have made their recent bikes so difficult.
It looks like Hector Barbera will return on a Ducati, but this year riding for the Pramac team, also down to one bike. And Karel Abraham is also expected back on a Ducati under the Cardion AB title.
The biggest factory returns with Repsol Oils sponsorship for world champion Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
They’ll also be providing a bike for Alvaro Bautista, who’s jumped from Suzuki to the San Carlo Gresini team, although it’s not been determined if he’ll be getting the same equipment as the late Marco Simoncelli did, and so far Gresini seems to have the funds for only one bike instead of two, although there’s talk of a CRT Ten Kate/Honda entry for Michele Pirro.
The other Honda, for the LCR team, is almost certain to go German Stefan Bradl, who took the 2011 Moto 2 championship.
No change at the top here, with 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies back. The satellite Monster Tech 3 squad is changing, however; Colin Edwards has left and is being replaced by Andrea Dovizioso, the third member of the 2011 Repsol Honda squad. Brit Cal Crutchlow will be back for his second year in Moto GP.
Claiming Rule Teams
Here’s where it starts to get murky. Colin Edwards will definitely be on a Suter-framed bike with a BMW engine under the banner of NGM Forward Racing. Team Laglisse plans to have two of the Suter-BMWs as well, with Carmelo Morales a possibility for one seat, no name for the other yet. And the Mapfre Aspar team also plans two Suter-BMWs, with Aleix Espargaro (former Ducati test rider and current Moto 2 racer) a possibility, and again no word on the second seat.
IODA Racing has entered Danilo Petrucci on a chassis (likely to be FTR but not confirmed, with an Aprilia engine. James Elison of the U.K. will be on a similar bike entered by Paul Bird Racing, who ran Kawasaki’s WSB effort in 2011.
BQR Racing plans two Kawasaki-powered bikes, either with FTR or Inmotec chassis. Yonny Hernandez is penned in for one ride, Ivan Silva a possible for the others.
Anthony West, former WSB rider and Kawasaki Moto GP pilot, most recently with MZ in Moto 2, has announced he’ll be riding with the Speed Master CRT team, using either a Honda or Aprilia engine.
And French ace Randy de Puniet is out in the cold after testing for Suzuki after the last race of the season.