Suzuki is close to confirming it will stay in the MotoGP world championship in 2012 to end months of speculation about the future of the British-based team.
The Japanese factory will remain with at least one factory GSV-R machine, with talks on-going about an expansion to a two-rider effort, which was first reported by MCN from last month’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.
Suzuki will start the 2012 season campaigning its current 800cc GSV-R machine before pondering a switch to its new 1000cc bike later in the season.
Japanese test rider Nobuatsu Aoki confirmed to MCN at the recent Twin Ring Motegi round that he had commenced shakedown testing of the new bike.
MCN understands the current plan is for the new bike to be tested by its contracted riders immediately after the Estoril round in Portugal in early May.
Suzuki will almost certainly remain in 2012 after sources confirmed to MCN in Valencia that the factory team will stay in Spain to take part in a two-day test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.
They will test the new 2012 Bridgestone tyres and a range of updated electronics on the current 800cc GSV-R.
Current rider Alvaro Bautista is also expected to commit his future to Suzuki, even though he has been offered an LCR Honda rider with Lucio Cecchinello’s squad.
He has also been linked with the Gresini Honda ride following the tragic death of popular Italian Marco Simoncelli in Sepang 12 days ago.
Bautista has made no secret of his desire to remain with Suzuki, despite his reluctance to begin the inaugural 1000cc world championship riding a current 800cc machine.
He told MCN recently: "I would like to race with the same bike as the other riders because I think a 1000 bike will be stronger than 800. The other factories are testing right now so even if Suzuki came with a 1000 in the third or fourth race it will be a difficult situation."
If Suzuki does commit to a two-rider effort, then British Superbike championship runner-up John Hopkins is hotly-tipped to fill the second spot.