Reports of Suzuki’s intent to bow out of the MotoGP championship rocked the racing world yesterday. If confirmed, the abrupt departure could throw a spanner in Grand Prix works for years to come, and leave two strong riders seatless in 2023. Suzuki hasn’t officially announced the move just yet, but many are already wondering which manufacturer would fill the void left by the Hamamatsu factory.
In August, 2021, KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer hinted at a GasGas-branded MotoGP team potentially entering the premier class in the near future.
"Yes, why not? Before we lose good riders, we'd rather make a third MotoGP team,” admitted Beirer. “We are now a year further with our MotoGP project, we are in a stable position. Anything is possible from there.”
While the Spanish enduro and trial bike brand just released its first road-legal models under Pierer Mobility ownership, the GasGas has fostered some of Grand Prix racing’s most promising young riders. That packed talent pool includes championship-leader Sergio Garcia and multiple race-winner Izan Guevara in Moto3. The GasGas Aspar Team may have just debuted in the Moto2 class in 2022, but it packs a punch with heavy-hitters like Jake Dixon and 2020 Moto3 champ Albert Arenas.
Aside from Jake Dixon, who’s been tied to a potential WithU Yamaha satellite seat, the up-and-coming GasGas riders will eventually have to duke it out with KTM and Husqvarna’s emerging talent for a chance at MotoGP. With a GasGas team on the MotoGP grid, KTM could retain more riders as they move up through the ranks.
There’s no shortage of ambition on Pierer Mobility’s part, but feasibility is another conversation. If Suzuki departs the premier class at the end of the 2022 season, the GasGas Aspar Team may not have enough time to get a squad up and running by the start of the 2023 season. Of course, GasGas would leverage the KTM RC 16 platform as a race machine, but many believe that outfitting a team wouldn’t be possible until 2024.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should note that Suzuki still hasn’t officially pulled out of MotoGP. In response to yesterday’s rumors, MotoGP organizing body Dorna released a public statement citing Suzuki’s recently signed contract to stay in MotoGP until 2026.
“Following recent rumors of Suzuki departing MotoGP at the end of 2022, Dorna Sports has officially contacted the factory in order to remind them that the conditions of their contract to race in MotoGP do not allow for them to take this decision unilaterally,” read the statement.
With that in mind, there’s still a lot that needs to unfold before we start backfilling Suzuki’s grid spots.