Suzuki reached MotoGP’s tallest mountaintop when Joan Mir captured the 2020 Rider’s Championship. Just five years after the House of Hamamatsu returned to the MotoGP grid in 2015, the small but resourceful Factory team snatched the sport’s highest honor. Little did anyone know that only two years after that momentous feat, Suzuki would be preparing to exit the MotoGP paddock once again.
Suzuki hasn’t officially announced its departure yet, but several media outlets have reported that the brand informed its MotoGP team that it intends to pull out of the Grand Prix series by year’s end. The news comes as a shock to the racing world following Joan Mir’s third-place finish in the 2021 season standings, and Alex Rins’ early 2022 results.
Both Factory riders have expressed their satisfaction with the Suzuki’s off-season upgrades to the GSX-RR prototype. Thanks to a few extra ponies, the Suzuki riders are no longer sitting ducks on the straights. Despite that added grunt, both riders have continued to struggle in qualifying.
Number 36 qualified second at the Portuguese GP, but number 42 started the race second-to-last. The GSX-RR's race pace typically offsets those woes, however, with Rins ranking fourth in the current championship standings and Mir close behind in sixth. It’s those positive results that make the news of Suzuki’s impending departure even more shocking.
Prior to the 2022 season, Suzuki seemed keen to continue its MotoGP team after hiring Team Manager Livio Suppo. If the reports are true, this won’t be the first time Suzuki abruptly left the Grand Prix paddock. In 2011, the firm suspended its MotoGP operations citing, “tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese Yen, and repeated natural disasters.”
Of course, many manufacturers are still coping with the collateral damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. With supply chain shortages and inflationary concerns still looming over OEMs, we wouldn’t be surprised if finances are forcing Suzuki to reassess its racing efforts.