Honda and Yamaha prefer no barrier to Suzuki return

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Senior management at Honda and Yamaha are both in agreement that there should be no barrier preventing the potential return of Suzuki’s factory squad in the 2014 MotoGP world championship.

Suzuki is pushing ahead with plans to return to MotoGP next year after going into self-imposed exile at the end of 2011 because of the continuing impact of the global financial crisis.

There still hasn’t been a 100% commitment from Suzuki to return with a two-rider effort next season, but Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta recently said the Japanese factory could only return if they met strict entry criteria.

Keen to protect the interests of the existing teams that have supported MotoGP through the tough economic situation, Ezpeleta is insisting Suzuki won’t be granted a new entry on the grid in 2014.

In order to meet Dorna’s entry requirements, Suzuki must either join forces with an existing squad or buy them out to take their place on the grid.

Suzuki claimed recently during the opening MotoGP test in Sepang that they had not been informed of Dorna’s entry policy but HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto says he doesn’t agree with Ezpeleta’s firm stance.

Speaking to MCN, Nakamoto said: “I don’t agree with this because a factory team is a factory team and if Suzuki comes back they are one of the MSMA (Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association) members. So if an MSMA member can’t have a team it means I don’t think it is a good idea. But Suzuki must speak to Carmelo about this.”

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis has not said he disagreed with Dorna’s position on Suzuki’s entry but he gave a hint that Suzuki should be encouraged to participate.

Since Suzuki quit MotoGP at the end of 2011, only Honda, Yamaha and Ducati have entered with a factory team and Jarvis told MCN: “The only thing I can say is I believe it is a benefit to the sport for all the manufacturers to be here and if they are here with their own team then that is even stronger.

Obviously from the promoters point of view they want a commitment and in the past Kawasaki and Suzuki withdrew mid-contract. I guess that’s something that has consequences but I think it is important that there should be no barriers to these factories coming back in. But when they do return they should make a commitment to stay.”

Part of Dorna’s negotiations with Suzuki has also seen Ezpeleta insist that they have a long-term commitment to the world championship.

He wants them to race until the end of 2016 at least and Jarvis said a three-year commitment was not an unreasonable expectation from Dorna’s side.

Jarvis added: “I think a serious manufacturer entering the game should make a three-year commitment. Frankly, if you return you are not going to be winning unless you are here for at least that period. If you are serious about winning the championship I think that’s a minimum three-year plan.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt