Keith Huewen asked: ‘Will others follow Suzuki out of MotoGP? Can Triumph join?'

The ongoing fallout from Suzuki’s shock decision to leave MotoGP at the end of 2022 is among the hot topics on this week’s MotoGP podcast featuring Keith Huewen.
Alex Rins, Spanish MotoGP, 29 April
Alex Rins, Spanish MotoGP, 29 April

Suzuki finally made their exit plans official on the eve of the French Grand Prix, while Dorna is currently undecided on whether to let grid numbers drop to 22 next season or allow a new team/manufacturer to join.

But the question put to Huewen by podcast host Harry Benjamin was whether any other manufacturers might reach the same conclusion as Suzuki and decide to quit MotoGP, despite all being in the first year of a five-year deal with Dorna (until 2026).

“That's why I said about ‘Sexit’ last week! People laughed, but it is a Brexit type situation,” said former grand prix rider Huewen, battling a cold after his return from commentary duties at the NW200.

“Europe wanted to make things difficult for the UK to leave, because otherwise any other region might want to try and do the same thing, and then Europe falls apart. The same now applies, in a much lesser manner, to MotoGP.

“If you can break a five-year contract that you've only just signed - because you suddenly look at your books and think ‘Oh dear, this ain't too good’ - then Dorna’s whole business model is blown completely out of the water.

“Dorna have invested millions and millions of pounds, probably billions over a period of time, into making this sport what it is. So suddenly Suzuki renege on a deal, they've got to pay.

“I would think that Dorna are going to make it difficult for them, and therefore they're also going to be making it difficult for every other team that might want to suddenly change what they've agreed to. MotoGP podcast with Keith Huewen MotoGP podcast with Keith Huewen

“You can't just slither out of a deal because suddenly it doesn't suit you.

“But is the war in Ukraine a valid excuse for Suzuki dumping their contract? I'm not a legal man, but I suppose things like wars could be classed as some kind of ‘force majeure’. If such a thing is even in the contract.

“Then there’s the road bike situation. The old adage of ‘win on Sunday, sell on a Monday’ is out the window. Sports bikes aren't selling and Suzuki are looking to go in a different direction I think.

“That's going to happen across all of the manufacturers. It's going to have a knock-on effect eventually. Is MotoGP still the hotbed of development? Can manufacturers’ convert enough of what they learn from MotoGP into production models?

“It's something the factories will all be looking at it. But it's Suzuki that has jumped first...”

Triumph, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP. 18 October
Triumph, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP. 18 October

Could Triumph join MotoGP in place of Suzuki?

A follow-up question from a listener then asked if Triumph, the exclusive engine supplier for the Moto2 class, might consider taking over Suzuki’s grid places.

“It's quite romantic, isn't it? It's wonderfully romantic,” replied Huewen. “But not a bloody chance!

“The amount of money you've got to put in to develop a MotoGP bike to the level the others are at now - I can't imagine John Bloor signing that one off. Any more than I can see Kawasaki coming back. Any more than I can see BMW coming in.

“A series that might be more relevant for Triumph would be World Superbikes.” MotoGP editor Pete McLaren added that creating a brand-new MotoGP project from scratch in time for the 2023 season would be extremely challenging, with KTM spending 2015 designing and preparing their project, before testing and a wild-card in 2016 and a full-time debut in 2017.

As such, McLaren believes any new manufacturer joining the grid for 2023 would need to rebrand an existing bike (as KTM does in Moto3 with its Husqvarna, GASGAS and CFMoto brands) or take over the GSX-RR project.

Huewen, McLaren and Benjamin also discuss Enea Bastianini’s third win of the season and which team he might race for in 2023, plus the recent tyre pressure controversy, Aleix Espargaro’s future at Aprilia, the Le Mans Moto2 and Moto3 races, and more.

Download Episode 46 at the following links...

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