MotoGP mid-season report: ‘Shock news’ impacting Suzuki season

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

2022 has not been the season Suzuki Ecstar was expecting when it signed Livio Suppo to take over as Team Manager back in February.

Despite leading the Team and Rider standings - with Alex Rins level on points to Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir sitting fourth - as the paddock returned to Europe after the opening four flyaway’s, the season all but imploded for the Hamamatsu squad.

A shock announcement from Japan that the factory was pulling out of MotoGP at the close of the year stalled the progress of both teams and riders, with four DNF’s each and an additional non-point score for Rins since Portimao - the latter having sustained a broken wrist at Barcelona after the first corner incident involving Takaaki Nakagami.

“I was super pleased, very happy to be back in the paddock after four years, and the team welcomed me very well,” Suppo said on his initial return to MotoGP. “It’s a fantastic group of people that are very professional, very friendly.

“Basically, in Portimao, we were leading the Teams’ Championship and Alex was on the same points as Fabio, and that was the time when I knew we should have retired,” he laughed.

“It has been a very good start, Alex showed he was in good shape, a different rider compared to last year. Joan was struggling a little bit more but it’s also true that he has kind of a way to approach the championship. He wants to start calm, and be stronger when he arrives in Europe. Then what happened probably had some influence.

“First of all, I need to really thank all the guys in the team because, despite the news, they didn’t give up, they kept a good mood,” he said of the bombshell dropped at the Jerez test with seemingly no prior warning. “If you stay in the paddock, you see in the evening that the atmosphere in our hospitality remains very friendly and happy. Of course, I’m trying to help them to find a solution for next year. But, the important thing is, apart from the impact and the shock of the first hours, they had a very strong reaction.

“Suzuki confirmed officially that they will not race next year. Then what is going is the negotiation with Dorna, that is something out of my job so I cannot say anything about it. For sure nothing has changed. There’s no chance to have Suzuki here next year.

“For the riders, it’s very difficult to say,” he continued on the overall effect of the news. “For Alex, he has zero points from the last two races, but basically not from his fault, because of the Barcelona crash. He has been fast anyway, so I think it’s difficult to say if the news has had an influence on their performance, but also I think Joan after especially the Barcelona test found something better in the set-up of the new machine, and I’m really confident that we can try to finish this season with good results, because of course, this will help us to be more happy.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images