With Suzuki officially confirming that it’s in talks with Dorna to exit MotoGP at the end of 2022, a number of questions arise—mainly to do with what all the people involved in the team will do next year. While professional racing involves a lot of musical chairs, and sudden shifts in team circumstances aren’t completely unheard of, they’re also not exactly common—and of course, everyone in the paddock probably hopes it won’t happen to them.
Where will 2020 MotoGP champion Joan Mir end up? Alex Rins hasn’t won a championship yet, but he’s been winning races lately—and that’s certainly no small thing. Although they’re the faces of the team and the talented riders who bring home those all-important results in each race, MotoGP is also a team sport. As all racers do, both Mir and Rins credit the strength of all the people on their team who have helped hone these bikes to bring such great performances. What happens to those people at the end of 2022?
"From Jerez, we were officially on the market,” Joan Mir said in a statement. “We were in negotiations with Suzuki before everything that’s happened. Now, for sure, my manager will have more work than he expected. He is speaking with Honda, with different manufacturers, to try to fix my future. But it’s not easy.”
"Am I in a hurry? No, not especially. If you ask every rider in the paddock, they’ll say that they’d prefer to have their future fixed than not. Everyone is the same on that. As soon as we have something it will be better for me, for everyone,” he added.
Of course, as the children’s game of musical chairs taught us, when you take one chair away, everyone else knows to race around quickly if they don’t want to miss out on having a seat. Pol Espargaro is understandably sounding a little defensive about his position with Repsol Honda, and says there’s no truth to the rumors that he’s already been told he’s out for next year in favor of Mir.
What about Rins? "At the moment, I have nothing for next year," Rins said in a statement. "But I have a manager who for sure will be busy compared to the previous weeks. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Honestly, this gives me an extra boost because we have the right bike. It’s the best package we’ve ever had. So, let’s show them that they made the wrong decision. The plan was to continue. We were in negotiations. If Livio [Suppo] or [Shinichi] Sahara-san knew it was coming, we wouldn’t have started those negotiations.”
"The rider market has changed now. Joan and I are leaving Suzuki, well they’re leaving us, so we need to go somewhere. I don’t want bad things to happen to other riders. I don’t want that one thing puts one rider out of a seat, but it’s a unique situation. I’m not in the position to say which bike I want next year, I only have these phones on the table right now,” he concluded.
Both expressed concern about what would become of the rest of the team at the end of the season. Teams tend to grow together, and the Suzuki garage is no different. Rins regards them as a family, so he wants to make sure that everyone finishes the season in the best way they possibly can before they go their separate ways.
At this point, the only thing that’s clear is that Suzuki wants out of MotoGP, for financial reasons. What happens from here is impossible to predict, but we’ll be watching and will report back as and when we know more.