News of Suzuki’s surprise withdrawal from the MotoGP paddock following the 2022 season devastated the team’s riders, mechanics, and managers. Outside of the Suzuki box, MotoGP organizing body Dorna was also blindsided by the troubling news. Unlike the Suzuki Ecstar team employees, though, Dorna had a legally-binding contract with Suzuki ensuring the manufacturer’s participation in the series until 2026.
Suzuki still plans to quit the Grand Prix series come 2023, but the brand will need to agree to terms with Dorna before officially withdrawing. To address the issue, Suzuki recently released a statement citing, “the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the Automotive world is facing in these years”. While Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta can empathize with Suzuki’s recent issues, the situation still leaves MotoGP without vital information for the future.
“I was advised by Livio Suppo that the decision was not to continue after this season,” revealed Ezpeleta. “The first thing we said is that we could understand, but we need to talk to know the situation because we have an agreement with Suzuki signed just last year. We need to understand exactly where is the problem.”
Of course, factory-backed motorcycle racing is an expensive endeavor, and it isn’t Suzuki’s first time leaving the MotoGP grid due to financial issues. However, with Joan Mir’s 2020 Rider’s Championship and the team’s competitiveness in the early rounds of the 2022 season, many fans and officials are frustrated with the sudden news.
“For me, it’s important to say that we obviously are not happy with Suzuki leaving, but the most important thing is that the Championship is in very good health,” Ezpeleta noted. “Depending on how the proposals look, we will decide if we want to replace Suzuki or we will continue with the situation as it is without Suzuki.”
Dorna is considering several replacements for Suzuki’s grid spots. The organization hasn’t officially revealed whether other OEMs have submitted proposals, but Moto3 private team Leopard has already publicly expressed its interest.
“We'll see, but if a seat is freed up and God willing, they [Dorna] give it to us, we'll be very happy,” admitted Leopard boss Christian Lundberg. “I think the only option would be to do it with Aprilia because, in my opinion, Dorna has to reward in one way or another the only constructor on the grid that only has two bikes, and today all the bikes are very competitive.”
With Suzuki and Dorna still in negotiations, we’ll have to see how the situation unfolds, but the abrupt departure continues to send ripples through the MotoGP world.