Bike development behind Suzuki’s delayed MotoGP return

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Suzuki has confirmed that it has delayed its return to MotoGP action until 2015 to focus on development of its new 1000cc machine.

When the Japanese factory suspended its premier class project at the end of 2011, Suzuki announced its intention to be back competing against the likes of Honda and Yamaha in 2014.

But speaking during the first European test of the new bike at the Catalunya track near Barcelona earlier today, Suzuki boss Satoru Terada said: “I had hoped we would come back in 2014 but we need more time to develop the bike to be ready to race and get good results, so we decided to postpone for one year."

Suzuki had appeared geared up to return to MotoGP next year having tested the new bike, which has the codename XRH-1, extensively in Japan for more than a year. Former factory Yamaha boss Davide Brivio was then signed to lead a development team in 2013, with current Aspar Aprilia rider Randy de Puniet testing the bike with veteran Japanese rider Nobuatsu Aoki.

Rumours that Suzuki would delay its MotoGP return started to circulate during last weekend’s Catalunya race and it was confirmed in a short statement released this morning from Japan.

Terada had been in Barcelona for the majority of the weekend and he had communicated the company’s decision to Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.
At the start of the year, Ezpeleta revealed that for Suzuki to return in 2014, they would not be given their own exclusive grid slot. Suzuki could only return by buying an existing team for its grid slots or collaborating with an existing non-factory team.
With no deal completed, Dorna unveiled new entry guidelines for new teams that will see Suzuki get zero financial assistance to return to MotoGP.

That includes no freight allowance and Suzuki will also have to pay for its own Bridgestone tyres.

Terada said: “I explained our situation for Suzuki to come back to MotoGP in 2015 and I believe it is acceptable to him. Carmelo agreed with our plan.  We want to come back with our own team and he agrees with this."
Terada did confirm that no official contract has been signed yet between Dorna and Suzuki and he added: “Suzuki Motor Corporation have announced they will participate in MotoGP from 2015. This is confirmed but at the moment we have not signed the contract with Dorna."
Asked by MCN if had been told about Dorna’s plan to offer no financial help to new entrants in 2015, he said: "Carmelo explained this plan and it is acceptable to Suzuki but I don't yet know about the conditions for tyres, I'm sure if we have to pay for tyres or not."
A testing schedule for 2014 is not yet finalised, so Terada would not be drawn on whether Suzuki’s new bike would be raced as a wild card in selected races next year.
He also denied that if future tests later in the year showed the bike to be at a competitive level, the decision not to race until 2015 will not be reversed.
The current bike is using Mitsubishi electronics but when it returns to full competition it will need to use Magneti Marelli hardware supplied by Dorna.
Terada said: “We are still developing our software. The Magneti hardware is very new to us and we haven't used it before. We have the Magneti hardware in Japan now but we are still using our Mitsubishi system. In the autumn we hope to us the Magneti system."
Randy de Puniet has impressed on the new bike in Catalunya today and at the time of writing he is 10th fastest and only 1.512s off the best pace set by Stefan Bradl’s LCR Honda.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt