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Reports Indicate Team Suzuki Leaving MotoGP at End of This Year

MD was waiting for an official press release from Suzuki, which was expected yesterday, but reports throughout the motorcycle racing press indicate that Suzuki has made the decision to quit its participation in MotoGP effective at the end of this season. The reason we don’t have an official press release? Apparently, Dorna has reminded Suzuki that it recently signed an agreement to field a two-rider team in MotoGP for five additional years. Quitting now, without Dorna’s consent, would be a breach of that agreement.

This doesn’t mean Suzuki won’t leave at the end of this year, but it leaves open several possibilities. Dorna has already indicated it has received interest from other manufacturers, as well as satellite teams, to take extra grid positions that become available in MotoGP. This could result, for example, in a GasGas-branded team (GasGas is under common ownership with KTM and Husqvarna), or even, in theory, a Kawasaki MotoGP Team.

If a factory or satellite team takes over the two grid positions vacated by Suzuki, they might employ current Suzuki team riders Alex Rins and/or Joan Mir, or they might not. Rins and Mir are both free agents at the end of this year, in any event, as their contracts with Suzuki come to an end.

No matter how this plays out, if Suzuki walks away at the end of this year, it will likely pay damages for breach of its agreement with Dorna, which could come in the form of at least partial funding of a replacement team.

Reports indicate Suzuki is leaving for financial reasons, but that is clearly speculation at this point and not likely to ever be confirmed by the factory. MD will pay attention to this story as it develops and issue additional reports when appropriate.

49 Comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    So now that we’ve covered all the important details from two-stroke enduro racing to mountain bikes – though we did seem to forget comments about Buell – how do you guys see the rider market getting shuffled around? I can’t see Rins or Mir missing out on a seat somewhere, but then someone is going to have to lose out for that to happen. I know both LCR riders are in peril. Sounds like Miller is out of the factory team for sure. Pol, too, maybe. Going to be interesting.

  2. Mick says:

    I wonder if Dirck is in Sardinia whopping it up. It has been all MotoGP (easy) all the time here for a while. Since then both the Tuareg 660 and the Ducati Desert X have held launches in Sardinia. I don’t know where GasGas launched their 700s. But maybe Sardinia is the venue of the year this year.

    I kind of wanted to ride Sardinia after riding Corsica. Corsica rocks harder than Rammstein. Sardinia probably does too.

  3. Burtg says:

    Late to this post.
    I just read that the first “air car” (car that flies) I’m Japan is being built with a Suzuki engine.
    My guess is that Suzuki is moving on to new ventures.
    Tesla has shaken up the world.
    I think Suzuki is working on what’s next.
    And motorcycles in MotoGP are not what’s next.

    • Dave says:

      That’s interesting. There is a small company called Aeromomentum that builds aviation engines by converting small Suzuki automotive 4 cylinders (1.5L and 1.8L) for use in light aircraft and air boats. They’re supposed to be really good.

  4. Donk says:

    Can’t say I blame Suzuki. While their flagship GSXR1000R is a great bike I’m not sure it’s a great seller compared to other liter bikes. In general they make good bike but the lineup is dated. Hard to know what Suzuki is up to?

  5. Relic says:

    What you are saying about gp being irrelevant to showroom sales can also be said for supercross. 450 4t are overweight, overpowered tanks on trails, where most mx bikes are actually used. The 250 4t xc bikes led to a massive orange takeover.

    • Dave says:

      As mentioned elsewhere, the marketing effort isn’t aimed at a 1:1 marketing/sales benefit. Racing builds positive impression for the whole brand. This is why MC and auto brands participate in forms of racing that has no direct relation to the vehicles they sell to consumers. F1 is the best example I can think of.

      KTM didn’t picked up business by committing to the off-road market. It’s telling that they field so many teams (KTM, Husky, Gas Gas) in SX, no?

    • Jeremy says:

      There is nothing overweight about the 450s unless you have the 20-year old versions of these bikes on your mind when making this comment. There is very little weight difference between a 450 and a 250 4T. MX bikes aren’t the best on most trails regardless of their displacement due to the light fly wheels, ignition timing, heat soak, and tiny fuel tanks. KTM made a lot of ground because they made something the Japanese OEMs did not – performance oriented trail bikes. Then they raised their awareness and prestige by winning in MX and SX.

      • Mick says:

        KTM is huge because they still develop new two strokes. Sherco and Beta are going after that market. But many off road events are oceans of orange two strokes.

        I currently have two YZ20s and a 300XC. I have always opted for the motocross version of Japanese bikes. Basically because the first thing people do to their WR or X models is attempt to get the motocross bike’s power back. I would rather start with a fast bike and add wood bike features to it.

        KTM has long offered the XC. It is usually about as close to a six speed version of their five speed motocross bike as you can buy. So I buy those.

        The four stroke bikes are just very well developed obsolete technology. They work quite well for motocross. But they lack the versatility of a two stroke.

        I used to always keep a four stroke around to see what all the fuss was about. But I gave up on them. They don’t bring anything positive to the table for me. They are high maintenance, loud, expensive and hot, with double the gyro. Everything you would expect from an obsolete technology sexed up to take your money. Gives me the creeps just thinking about them.

        • Dave says:

          Thing is, KTM isn’t huge, they’re actually pretty small. They do well in off-road because they give it attention as you said. They aren’t “beating” the Japanese brands by doing 2T’s so much as the Japanese brands are just uninterested in serving that market.

          • Mick says:

            Define small. They sell more units than Harley Davidson or BMW, to name a couple. They have broken their own sales record for 11 years running with 332,881 units last year. Most of them costing ten thousand dollars or more.

            KTM builds it and people come. I was going buy a new one, but I snoozed and missed the last carbureted ones. Their fuel injected two strokes are not ready for my garage just yet. There’s nothing wrong with my 2017. So I just threw a wad at the suspension to have it freshened up and tuned. I’m fixin’ to go ride it for a couple of weeks. It lives 1500 miles from here. Close compared to when I lived in France or Netherlands.

          • Dave says:

            The leading bicycle companies are larger and not thought of as “big” companies. I believe many of their bikes sold for over $10k but I doubt it was “most” of them. How many of that number were Duke 125’s in the S.E. Asia markets? How many Duke 390’s?

            There are many brands in S.E. Asia that make 300k small displacement bikes and scooters per month.

          • mickey says:

            In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021, Suzuki sold some 1.5 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles worldwide. This is a year-on-year decrease of around 170,000 motorcycles compared to 2019 sal

        • Jeremy says:

          Performance trail bikes can be two stroke or four stroke, and both have their use cases. I do agree two stroke development is a reason for their success, but it isn’t the only reason. The Japanese OEMs kind of got caught sleeping while that whole racing scene developed and didn’t make much effort to participate. Even now that they are waking up, they are still only interest in running four strokes. Races are still mostly two stroke affairs, though, and I doubt that will change unless there is some intervention to eliminate them from the race classes.

          I do think trail users are changing, though. These days, I see more four strokes out on the trails now than two strokes. That is a pretty recent development.

          I have a four stroke and a two stroke, both Betas. I prefer the two stroke for most cases, but the 4T is quite nice and even better for certain things. That said, I’d keep the two stroke if it came down to it, and any new purchases I make will likely be two strokes as well.

    • Tom R says:

      Wow, all this KTM motocross comment stuff derived from a report about Suzuki leaving Moto GP.

      • Relic says:

        Suoerbike was a big deal in the 70s and 80s. Why? It was interesting. The mechanics made lots of mods to the bikes. The riders wobbled around, ground parts off, shredded tires. And, the demographics were in favour . lots of young guys with good paying jobs. But, times changed. The bikes purchase price hasn’t gone up relative to inflation. But, maintenance, repairs, insurance etc has increased. At the same time, unskilled, entry level jobs don’t pay enough to live on, let alone a luxury like a sportbike. And traffic cameras make speeding an stunting lose your license. And, the roads are clogged with traffic anyway.
        I changed over to MTB after a lifetime in moto. Riding on forestry roads, there is a steady sream of ADVs. This is what ktm, triumph get. Honda and yamaha have a presence. Suzuki has the dr650, which us still a good adv. Kawis failure to relace the klr is inexcusable, especially given they have a 650 twin with 6spd.
        Now motogp thread has gone off to the klr lol

        • Relic says:

          BTW I was in SE Asia for 6 years. 95% of bikes are small displacement scooters, mostly Honda waves. When a family becomes affluent, they don’t buy a larger scooter, they buy a car.

  6. Vtwinpower says:

    Let’s talk development, the new GSXS1000GT+ is nice but doesn’t have the “sport tourer” items that the direct competition has. Adjustable windshield…really…can’t do it? Remote preload adjuster…again…really? Basic electronics and first Suzuki to have a LCD dash?!
    Yamaha tracer has semi active suspension, 6 axis mcu and so on, Kawi has the windshield and preload adjuster and better electronics for the same $$.
    The K5 gsxr engine is great and has been used in so many models, guess why mess with it, right?
    I have owned 6 Suzukis and they were great, reliable sportbikes but get with the times. They never updated the gsxr except for color and design. We asked for an updated SV650 to no avail and we kept buying them and the gsxr.

    • Tom R says:

      Suzuki has mostly been about Bold New Graphics ever since that recession twelve or so years ago, and much of their lineup has been stuck in time since ten or more years before that. DR 650S or Boulevard cruiser anyone?

    • SensibleSteve says:

      Some riders (i.e. me) regard all the electronics beyond basic ABS and TC as unnecessary, costly, potential failure points of complexity and largely unnecessary. TFT dash is good on the 1000GT, but as yet I haven’t felt the need to connect my phone to it. I use a TomTom and connect my intercom to that and my phone for calls, routing etc.
      No doubt the Tracer 9GT is good – I test rode one. But I want a *sports* tourer with the extra 30bhp and less ADV riding position. The 1000GT is just about right for me, I think I hade a good choice.
      The 1000sx was also a close call, but the panniers are small and other things that IMO tipped me in the favour of the Suzuki.

      • Dave says:

        Unfortunately you’re in the minority. The ADV style is now the sport tourer and what used to be sport tourers are becoming seen as old guy bikes (which is ironic in a market that has an average new purchase age of 47+).

        Hopefully there is enough interest to keep the traditional sports tourer alive. For anyone interested in staying on the pavement, it really is the better tool for that job.

  7. My2cents says:

    It will be a loss to the GP grid as Suzuki has a solid history in GP racing. As a company they continue to some of the finest motorcycles and have a passion for taking chances. The RE5, GT750, 1982 Katana, 1985 GSXR 750, Wes Cooley replica, DR 750 Big, XN85, etc. Many of these motorcycles defined new segments and a few failed. The heart of the matter is Suzuki above others took the risk to build from imagination and not the bean counters order.

  8. Grover says:

    A MotoGP Championship has NO effect on what I buy for the street. It’s just entertainment value and nothing more. The fact that SUZUKI dropped out is a plus in my book as there’ll be more money to spend developing their bikes.

  9. Dave says:

    I’ve read elsewhere that this news didn’t reach the team operators any sooner than it’s reached us. The questions I have are, can another organization prepare an effort on such short notice? Might they employ the organization that’s running the Suzuki’s now. They have to be one of the better team organizations in the sport. Why scatter them?

    • Jeremy says:

      I don’t know how feasible it is, but one of the more interesting prospects I’ve heard discussed would be if KTM were to create a “new” factory team with the Husqvarna brand. This would give KTM access to a team and data with concessions running pretty the same bike. Whether or not they could afford that, or even want to do that, I don’t know. Of course the other way that same scenario could play out would be to have Tech3 manage the Husqvarna team in lieu of running a KTM satellite which would still leave the Suzuki crew looking for jobs.

      Aprilia does want a satellite team pretty badly, but they lack the budget. Maybe the solution is that Dorna would provide some financial incentive to make that happen. They currently give every independent team 2 million Euros. Not sure how well it would go over with the independents to give Aprilia’s satellite more than the other teams to make that happen.

      Of course the biggest gorilla in the room might be Honda. They could definitely use another two bikes for the data. They could also afford to retain Mir and Rins. They could stick Mir on the Repsol team with Marc, demote Pol to LCR with Rins (though I expect Rins will replace Franco at Yamaha) then Ogura and some other young hotshot on the new independent team. I don’t think the would keep Alex Marquez or Taka in this scenario.

  10. Doug says:

    Riding my 2020 GSX-S750, I’m happy with the engine. Good power and a proven design was what drew me to it. The other twins did not inspire me. In a field of similar displacement machines the Suzuki held its own. Plus the price was much more attractive. Great dealer network here in Canada is appreciated. Other manufacturers are racing MOTOGP and have next to zero dealers in the country. Sorry to hear they may leave MOTOGP. Still I respect their the path as a manufacturer. The “special sauce” distractions are not what I’m shopping for.

  11. Micki says:

    Can’t really blame Suzuki. MotoGP is expensive, demographics have shifted away from sport bikes, electric bikes are inevitable, and Suzuki to me is Everyman’s Bike. A bike for the masses; a great value.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      MotoGP development costs are also increasingly going into areas with zero relevance for streetbikes: Aero and ride height trickeries. Which threaten to soak up ever increasing shares of development budgets of GP teams going forward, while giving nothing back to the mothership in the way of useful technologies nor learnings. Its really would not be surprising to learn that ever-pragmatic-Suzuki can’t find a way to justify it anymore. If we’re lucky, perhaps they’ll instead focus factory efforts on WSB, IoM etc. Lighting up and bringing some focus on those.

      • Micki says:

        Agreed. Suzuki is wise to forget about “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Better, get some social media influencers to do cool things on a Suzuki. Around the world. Across America. Through a swamp. Picking up girls. Anything to make it cool to win the challenge, win the girl, win the journey on a Suzuki.

        • Jeremy says:

          Poor strategy. Too gender specific.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          They need to retain involvement with race teams, in order to get data back wrt how their bikes perform when pushed to their limits and beyond, though.

          Race teams often mod and set up bikes very differently from what comes from the factory. In order to stay relevant in sport bikes, the factory needs to be kept in that loop. That has also been one of Suzukis strong suits: The bikes stand up to lots of abuse by scrappy racers out to win.

          While few people are bonkers enough to get off their new Hayabusa and figure what it needs is a big turbo; Suzuki paying attention those who do, indirectly benefits everyone, since keeping up with even those sorts of abuses ends up requiring the stock bikes to be stouter.

          But to the extent MotoGP is becoming increasingly about aero and other MotoGP specific trickeries; rather than about advances with at least theoretical applicability to future street bikes; Suzuki should be able to get much more bang for their race dollars in other venues.

  12. Tommy D says:

    Suzuki’s attempt at staying current and fresh with their model lineup is the basically an Instagram catfish filter on old tired platforms. They can’t afford to update their lineup. How can they afford MotoGP? Sure we will miss them but take that money and spend it on development of something exciting and new. This lack of innovation they show is a killer in any industry.

  13. Mick says:

    Remember when the 600 sport bike was the best selling street bike from any manufacturer that made one?

    Those days are gone. Gone too are the days when the AMA had a very popular road racing series and World Superbike was huge. They were covered regularly right here, back in the day. Then all the OEM support eggs were put into the ultra expensive MotoGP basket to field a couple of riders. And as marketing campaigns go, it has been an abysmal failure. Some manufacturers have dropped the 600 sport bike altogether. People are trending toward bikes that look more like dirt bikes. The AMA still has a very popular dirt bike racing series and so does Europe. The manufacturers haven’t placed all the support eggs into one small basket and it shows. Dorna better pry that Yamaha isn’t next. Why KTM bothers at all is beyond me.

    Suzuki should make the RM250 two stroke again. They are praised as great handling bikes to this day 13 years after they stopped making them. Good luck finding one for sale. Yamaha still makes the same YZ from about the same time with nothing but two updates of bold new plastics over the years. I have an 04 (steel frame) and an 07 aluminum, which is basically the current bike. The aluminum one is a bit lighter and the steel one is more plush on rugged terrain. Is it a wonder why KTM, with their steel framed two strokes, owns the extreme Enduro world.

  14. mickey says:

    No complaints about the Suzuki’s I have owned, but I haven’t owned one since the mid 80s, a GS1100E. Also had a GS850G and 2 GT 750s. All good dependable bikes.

    If I were a bit younger and had a few more years of LD touring ahead of me, I’d consider their new 1000GT, but would lean towards another Yamaha FJR 1300.

    I’ve enjoyed watching Mir and Rins compete on the Suzuki’s in MotoGP the last few years.

  15. Roadrash1 says:

    As a motorcycle fan, I’d hate to see them stop making bikes. I had a few really good Suzuki motorcycles, including a GSXR600 and a SV1000S.
    We had two of their cars, a 2003 XL7, and a 2010 SX4. We still have the SX4. 140,000 miles and it looks and runs great still.
    They stopped importing cars, when they failed to capture enough of the market to make it worth compliance with US rules.
    At least that’s what our dealer said. They make good, reliable machines!

  16. patdep says:

    does winning on Sunday helps with selling bikes on Mondays; I wonder ?

    • Phil B says:

      Right. Makes you wonder how on the edge money wise other manufacturers are from questioning the worth of mega racing budgets with recent hyper inflation.

    • Dave says:

      That adage was never really true. “Racing on Sunday” builds the brand and then they sell “whatever the product is” on Monday. Sportbike sales aren’t a big enough business on their own to justify all of the money these factories spend on racing. I’m not sure they ever were.

    • Jeremy says:

      I was listening to a podcast where they mentioned Suzuki sold less than 90,000 bikes in Indonesia last year out of a market of something like 5.4 million new bike sales. And that’s coming off of Mir’s championship in a country that loves motorcycles and motorcycle racing. It doesn’t seem to be propping up their brand any, probably because they aren’t propping their brand with development.

      As a GP fan, I hate to see them go, but the truth is their race budget would be better spent on updating their lineup. I doubt they will do that, though. They’ve been out of the MX/SX game for a decade now having not updated their bikes at all, and their sales reflect that. There have been some rumors that they plan to exit the motorcycle business altogether.

      • Dave says:

        Wow! I didn’t realize their slice of the pie had become so small. SE Asia has tons of brands and volume. If Suzuki exits motorcycles, what’s left?

        • Jeremy says:

          Let me say that their exit from motorcycles altogether is a rumor I find unlikely. Maybe they’ll exit the US market. I could see that. But honestly, I suspect they’ll use their GP budget to double-down in India and Southeast Asia. I think maybe they’ve just decided that racing doesn’t help them sell bikes in those markets. Or perhaps those markets have smaller, grass roots racing organizations that makes more sense for them to pump the money into. Or maybe Suzuki is just very deficient in strategic management. Who knows?

        • Relic says:

          When I was in SE Asia, I had a Suzuki 125 scooter, great bike except for a bit of vibration. The issue is that honda owns the market. It’s like Harley in the USA. That’s what the average person thinks a bike is.

      • MGNorge says:

        The motorcycle business is especially tough these days it seems. New and exciting models seem fewer and farther between along with younger generations distracted by other activities.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          The entire 400-500cc and up market, is going the way pioneered by Harley: Fading away with the aging boomers who have been the market all along. The Adv guys may be a decade younger than the cruiser guys, but that’s about all the difference there is. Just as Harley was the most “successful” and “valuable” “brand” a decade ago, now BMW, KTM…. are enjoying their moment in the sub selling multiple variations of the same overpriced theme to the same dying demographic. After them, it’s the Playstation…..

          Utilitarian motorcycling will always be around. But utilitarian bikes have at most 500ccs, cost at most $5K, and don’t support entire industries aimed at facilitating geriatrics pretending to be neither pirate nor power ranger.

    • Fastship says:

      NO. It’s a relic of a cliché. If you look back into the depths of time you see owners of motorcycles, in the ‘20’s, the ‘30’s “soup-up” their bikes for the novel thrill of going faster than you could on a horse. Rivalry began which begot racing which became formalised, codified and regulated. The stronger manufacturers saw an opportunity to establish brand awareness and in an age of heroes sponsored some racers then threw their own, mundane products into the fray. Competition made development rapid but highly specialised. Racing bikes departed from most of the products that they sold but in a time of limited excitement, the halo effect on these mundane bikes,bread & butter cheap transport for the working man was worth the (small) effort & expense.

      The root of all of this however, was the individual rider who sought the thrill of speed and competition and the danger too. The café racer was literally that; in the days of black & white TV with only two channels they hung out in transport cafés with a jukebox. For thrills they would race each other to the next café. The “ton-up” boys were the ones who could get 100 mph out of their bikes – true heroes! Those individuals, by and large no longer exist and nor does the rational for the big brands to “go racing”. You go into a bike shop today and the sport bike is no longer front & centre, if they exist at all they are tucked away in a corner. We don’t look at the magazine shelves in November for news of next summers faster then this years 1000cc super bike. We don’t look at magazine shelves at all. The racers of the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and 70’s are no longer household names. The racers of today certainly aren’t – not even in their own household. The thrill, speed and danger of fast bikes is no longer socially and politically acceptable. In an age of collectivism the individual is no longer socially (and politically) acceptable. Here in Europe speed is highly criminalised and from next year, all new vehicles will have speed limiters. By the end of the decade, IC engines will be outlawed altogether. I can’t speak to the mindset of the teeming masses of Indonesia, India or Africa where the cheap bike is still the working man’s transport.

      It is us, the lads who get a thrill out of going fast on a raucous, noisy bike who are the relics. We are not relevant, we are not socially acceptable, we are a dying demographic. Everything that went with it, watching Kenny Roberts battle Sheene in glamorous places we couldn’t get to, hearing tales of Geoff Duke on the Isle of Man of “Mike the Bike” Hailwood’s sublime riding style were a fleeting moment in time. We in turn can tell the kids that we saw Rossi at Mugello but they won’t know why we are telling them. They will be wrapped up in the Metaverse. They will never feel the excitement, the anticipation of turning up at a bike race on a chilly Sunday morning, hearing the crackle of the 500cc two strokes warming up, the smells, the noise, the experience. I would spend previous Easter’s following the Trans-Atlantic-Trophy for track to track, seeing the Yank’s Pat Hennon, Gary Nixon, “King” Kenny, etc race Sheen, Ron Haslam, Mick Grant etc in the depths of the English countryside. This last Easter I tidied up the garden!

      The executives in the “C” suite are correct to question the relevance of their company’s participation in racing. It’s a relic of the past. Outdated, obsolete and pointless. Just like me!

      • Curly says:

        True that. We are of a bygone era but one I’m happy to have lived in and enjoyed. My career in the industry started 50 years ago last March and I retired from Yamaha five years ago now. A golden age for sure but one that will never return. Suzuki are making a reasoned decision for their future and investors. Sad to see them go.

      • Chris B says:

        We’ll said; you just described me!
        Long ago we’re the days of companies providing what the man on the street wants. Business became all about efficiency, efficiency too easily turned into greed. Every company is beholden to their shareholders and shareholders don’t care what the business is, they want profits, more and more profits. So the industry hires money men who know how to make a profit; can you imagine Bordi’s (I think🤔) 4 valve desmo head go from university dissitation to productivity in this day and age? “Is it profitable? No, then bin it. This may be the sign of the times; for those who lived and enjoyed it, don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened.
        Gloomy old f**ker aren’t I…