Rizla to stay with Suzuki’s MotoGP squad

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Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen’s impressive start to 2009 has convinced title sponsors Rizla to remain with Suzuki’s factory MotoGP squad, MCN has learned.

Negotiations that have been taking place for months have finally been concluded and an official announcement is expected ahead of the final winter test session in Jerez at the end of March.

An agreement was reached after Italian veteran Capirossi played a starring role in the opening winter test of 2009 at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

The triple world champion was third fastest and only narrowly beaten by dominant duo Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi as the new factory GSV-R was immediately fast out of the crate.

Aussie Vermeulen was sixth quickest in the Far East too as Suzuki tries to turn around a torrid 2008 campaign, where the Japanese factory failed to build on a promising first year to the 800cc era.

Suzuki bosses told MCN at the recent Sepang test session that should Rizla quit, the sponsorship loss would not impact on Suzuki’s commitment to race in MotoGP in 2009. Suzuki has yet to make any official comment on the future of Rizla.

Suzuki’s deal with Rizla comes hot on the heels of news that leading energy drink brand Monster will back James Toseland and Colin Edwards’ Tech 3 Yamaha squad.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt