In a statement this morning on the MotoGP website (which indicates it’s pretty much a sure thing, we’d say), Suzuki says it is planning to leave the series, and explains why:
“Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending Suzuki’s participation in MotoGP™ at the end of 2022.
Unfortunately, the current economic situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the Automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to drastically decrease racing related costs and to use all its economical and human resources in developing 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.”
It’s disappointing, and on the surface, surprising. Suzuki has been one of the top manufacturers in MotoGP the past few years, winning the 2020 title with Joan Mir, and looking strong again this season—until now.
However, Suzuki’s participation in MotoGP is also uncharacteristic of the company, which generally keeps close tabs on its yen and isn’t involved in World Superbike, the Dakar Rally or most other high-level motorcycle racing series. Compared to the other Japanese manufacturers, Suzuki has been extremely conservative and cautious when it comes to introducing new models in recent years—and considering the penny-pinching that’s gone on with the rest of the Big Four since 2008, that’s really saying something.
So, it’s no shock, and a dive into the company’s most recent financial statements shows it’s been hit hard by COVIDnomics, just as it was hit hard by the 2008 global recession. Might we expect more cost-cutting to come? It wouldn’t be a surprise.
However, models like the Gixxer 250 sold in overseas markets indicate Suzuki’s not quite ready to give up on motorcycles—it’s just that its future in this space is going to look different than what we might have imagined a decade ago, and for now, it won’t involve MotoGP.