Despite being absent during the first two test sessions of 2009, Rizla has now concluded a new title sponsorship deal with Suzuki for the forthcoming MotoGP season.
Rizla began backing the factory GSV-Rs in 2006, and tasted MotoGP victory with Chris Vermeulen the following season, but its colours were taken to the podium on just three occasions in 2008 and a continuation of its funding looked in serious doubt when Suzuki tested without Rizla logos at Sepang and Qatar.
However, no doubt helped by the highly-promising performance of the new GSV-R, Rizla has now officially confirmed that it is back on board for 2009 at least.
''This is very positive news for Suzuki to continue our partnership with Rizla in today's current difficult climate,” said team manager Paul Denning. “We have enjoyed a very close relationship, both on and off the track, with Rizla during the past three years and have certainly considered all the representatives of Rizla as part of the team.
''Our on track performance during the first two tests has also been very encouraging and shows how much hard work the Factory has put in during the off season. The GSV-R has certainly come a long way since last year and we know there is still more to come - Chris and Loris were both very impressed with the new bike, but we know there is still a lot of work to do. The Suzuki team will continue to work hard to keep improving, and we are very positive about our prospects for 2009 in partnership with Rizla.''
With the distinctive blue and yellow livery having become synonymous with both the Suzuki and Rizla brands in recent years, Graham Blashill, Imperial Tobacco Group sales & marketing director, was delighted to be confirming a new contract.
''In difficult economic times, it is even more important to continue to support major brands and excellence in sport. Rizla and Suzuki are global brands committed to providing top quality and innovative products, and we are pleased to be continuing our partnership.''
Despite the new Rizla deal, which follows hot on the heels of Tech 3's partnership with Monster Energy, four MotoGP teams - Pramac, LCR, Team Scot and Hayate - are still without a 2009 title sponsor.