The 2022 MotoGP season will conclude this weekend at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. It also marks Suzuki’s last appearance in the top-tier category as the Japanese manufacturer has decided to drop out.
When the news was announced on Monday afternoon during the official test day in Jerez, it seemed completely unrealistic. Team Suzuki Exstar staff have been told by the Japanese management that Suzuki will be withdrawing from the motorcycle category at the end of the season and everyone can start looking for a new employer before 2023.
It took a long time for an official statement from Suzuki Motor Company, and when it finally came, it was reported that negotiations with Dorna Sports were continuing. In 2021, the manufacturer signed a new five-year agreement with the MotoGP Championship rights holder, which committed them to the championship until 2026.
Two months later, the official announcement finally came that Suzuki will be discontinuing not only the MotoGP class but also the FIM EWC project at the end of this year. The Japanese car and engine manufacturer wants to use its human and financial resources in a different way and focus on future technologies. Since there are no (completely) new models in the Suzuki motorcycle lineup, it seems the company has reduced interest in developing and selling the motorcycles anyway.
This isn’t the first time Suzuki has left the moto class, which happened at the end of 2011, even after they started that season with only Alvaro Bautista. However, it wasn’t long before a new project was launched and plans were made to come back. It happened with David Preview at the helm and after a lengthy testing process Suzuki raced its first Grand Prix at the end of 2014 in Valencia with test driver Randy de Bonet.
In 2015, Alex Espargaro and Maverick Vinales were the drivers and were the highlight of qualifying 1-2 in Barcelona. A year later, Vinales won his first MotoGP win at Silverstone before leaving for Yamaha and Espargaró to Aprilia, attracting Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins.
After two tough years, Suzuki won again for the first time in 2019 with Alex Rins. The Spaniard won the US Grand Prix after a thrilling duel with Valentino Rossi before overtaking Marc Marquez at Silverstone with a massive overtaking in the last corner. Joanne Meyer had a difficult year as a rookie at the time, but she will rise to unprecedented heights in 2020.
The Spaniard won his first MotoGP world title for Suzuki in 2020 and his first MotoGP world title since Kenny Roberts Jr. in 2000. Mir won his first and only race to date in the MotoGP class in Valencia while Rins won his home circuit in Aragon that year.
In 2021, Mir was unable to extend his title and wins were not imminent either, after which Reigns was able to add another victory to Suzuki’s rest a few weeks earlier. The Spaniard won a great race on Phillip Island, eventually beating Marc Marquez and Pico Bagnaia. A big boost to the team, many of whom won’t be working on the MotoGP circuit in 2023, and a nice farewell to the Suzuki GSX-RR that’s arguably the nicest MotoGP bike ever.
Hopefully, Suzuki’s departure this time will be temporary again, but due to changes in the world and the automotive sector, it now looks like a final goodbye. Joan Mir and Alex Rins will do everything in their power to succeed in the final race for the Japanese factory and (largely Italian) team before moving to Honda.
Read below the Suzuki Xstar team press release ahead of the Valencia Grand Prix.
Suzuki is preparing to say “Sayonara” at the end of the season
With the 2022 MotoGP season coming to a close, Team Suzuki Exstar staff and riders are preparing to close the doors following the decision earlier this year to end the Suzuki racing project.
It will be an emotional and unusual shutdown for the whole team, but the goal is to finish feeling good as sunny Spain awaits. As has become the tradition over the years, the end of the motorcycle season will take place at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.
Alex Rins has many fond memories of the Spanish circuit as he was often on the podium in his various participations in all categories, most recently in 2020. Rins also strengthened by his recent victory in Australia and his fifth place last time in Malaysia.
Joan Mir won the so-called ‘European GP’ in Valencia in 2020 and the following week took his first MotoGP title at the same track. He’s also climbed onto the podiums here in his Moto3 career, where he finished fourth last year. With his injured ankle still going strong, Meyer hopes to remember the wonderful memories he had here two years ago and celebrate this one last time with his team.
Valencia seats 150,000 and the stands are stadium-style, giving all fans a great view. An exciting circuit near a beautiful city with so much to offer makes this last stop on the calendar one of the most popular spots of the year.
Alex Rains: “It’s going to be a strange and sad weekend but I am determined to have a good one. My team has given me everything over the years and I will do my best to give it back to them last time with a good result. Our team’s attitude has always been to keep feeling good, so let’s go to Valencia is feeling good and we are trying to enjoy every moment.”
Joanne Meyer: “I want to do everything in my power for this last round, for myself and my team. I can be quick here and my bike can be too, but we just need a little luck on our part to get it all done. I’ve had a few issues recently like my arm in Malaysia and a scale issue The pressure is in Australia and all I want now is a hassle-free weekend so I can finish this chapter with my amazing team and enjoy the last race.”
Livio Suppo – Team Manager: “We are at the last dance here in Spain this weekend, and it will definitely be an extraordinary weekend for all of us. But since this Japan announcement, we have made sure to keep our heads high and I think the whole team has been very professional all season: I’m proud of that. Let’s We pay to celebrate one last success together.”
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