Suzuki confirms MotoGP withdrawal

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Suzuki has officially announced it has withdrawn from the MotoGP world championship with immediate affect, ending months of speculation about the future of the Japanese factory squad.

A short statement issued today said that the impact of the global economic crisis had been a major influence on Suzuki’s decision to suspend its MotoGP effort for 2012 and '13.

The Hamamatsu factory though confirmed it is planning a return to the 1000cc class in 2014.

Today’s statement read: “Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend temporarily its participation in FIM Road Racing Grand Prix MotoGP from 2012.  This suspension is to cope with tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese Yen and repeated natural disasters. Having an eye to returning to MotoGP in 2014, Suzuki will now focus on developing a competitive new racing machine for that class. Suzuki will continue motocross racing activity and support of road racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles, by obtaining FIM homologation and co-operation with the supplier of its development racing kit parts.”

Suzuki confirmed it was leaving MotoGP a week after Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta issued Japanese management with a November 11 deadline to commit to the 2012 world championship.

It was last Friday when team members were informed by e-mail that the British-based squad was shutting down.

The decision to withdraw means just Honda, Yamaha and Ducati will have a factory presence in MotoGP next year.

Kawasaki withdrew shortly before the start of the 2009 campaign because of the worldwide financial meltdown and Aprilia left at the end of 2004.

Despite a tireless campaign by Suzuki GP boss Shinichi Sahara and team manager Paul Denning to persuade Japanese management to continue, the axe still fell on the Rizla-backed squad.

The writing was on the wall when Alvaro Bautista announced he was leaving Suzuki to sign a deal to join Fausto Gresini’s Honda squad immediately after the final race of the season in Valencia.

Suzuki’s last MotoGP world title came in the last 500cc two-stroke championship with Kenny Roberts Junior back in 2000. But the factory had fallen on hard times and only won one race in the 800cc era when Chris Vermeulen triumphed in the rain at Le Mans in 2007. The last time a GSV-R was on the podium was back in 2008 when Loris Capirossi finished third in Brno.

British legend Barry Sheene and Texan star Kevin Schwantz were amongst Suzuki’s other world champions.

The move means Denning will now exclusively run the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike squad with Leon Camier and John Hopkins.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt