“Fortunately they let the riders know…” - Alvaro Bautista on Suzuki MotoGP exit

Alvaro Bautista says he is ‘surprised’ to see his former Suzuki team declare its intention to quit the MotoGP World Championship at the end of the 2022 season for the second time in little more than a decade.
Alvaro Bautista - Rizla Suzuki
Alvaro Bautista - Rizla Suzuki

The Japanese manufacturer - World Champions with Joan Mir only two years ago - very unexpectedly informed Team Suzuki Ecstar members of its decision to exit the series during the post-Spanish MotoGP one-day test at Jerez on 2 May.

The abrupt call - unbeknown to even the team’s highest ranking members - came despite it being close to finalising a deal to retain both Mir and Alex Rins for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons and only months after hiring Livio Suppo as team manager. 

While negotiations are still ongoing between Suzuki and Dorna to agree a fine the Hamamatsu firm will be obligated to pay for reneging on its commitment to race in MotoGP until 2026, this isn’t the first time Suzuki has shuttered its racing division.

Indeed, having already scaled its factory effort to a single bike entry for the 2011 MotoGP season as a consequence of the ongoing global financial crisis, it subsequently withdrew altogether at the end of the year before returning in 2015.

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Bautista - who made his MotoGP debut with Suzuki in 2010 - stayed on as its sole rider for the 2011 season, scoring a best finish of fifth place at Silverstone.

He says he can relate to Suzuki’s sudden call, even if he is ‘surprised’ to see it occur so soon after clinching its first world title in 20 years.

“I am a little bit surprised because they won the championship two years ago,” the 22-time WorldSBK race winner and current championship leader told Crash.net. 

“It seems this year they have a better bike, which they have improved on the engine side, so yeah, it is surprising.

While this latest bombshell seemingly came without prior warning, Bautista believes Mir and Rins should be thankful it came when it did, unlike in 2011 when he was dumped at the end of the season in November.

“Fortunately they let the riders know [already] they will leave, because they told me at the end of the season, so I didn’t have time to react for another place. 

“So a mix, surprised, but at the same time they have done it in the past…”

Jorge Martin, Indonesian MotoGP, 19 March 2022
Jorge Martin, Indonesian MotoGP, 19 March 2022
© Gold and Goose

“I expected more from Jorge Martin”

Bautista also offered his take on the close contest between Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini for the prized factory Ducati MotoGP seat alongside Pecco Bagnaia next season.

Countryman Martin came into his sophomore campaign as the clear favourite to land a works promotion for 2023 but a series of error strewn races in the shadow of Bastianini’s three spotlight-stealing victories has left Ducati with second thoughts.

With a decision due to be made during the summer break, Ducati stablemate Bautista - currently eyeing a first WorldSBK title for the manufacturer since Carlos Checa in 2011 - opines Martin has been buckling under the pressure of both expectation and Bastianini’s rapid rise to prominence.

“Aaah… it’s not easy,” he continued. “What happened to Jorge was strange because he had a really bad crash last year, but it seems he recovered and came back to a good level last season, but this year he is struggling a lot.

“We saw last year he was more up and down, but it was normal because of the injury. But this year, I expected a bit more from him 

“I think he had the problem after the crash last year, with the collarbone and the arm, at this top level, if you are not at your best, then you are f****d, especially now when the differences are very small. You could be fighting for the podiums or just the points. 

“He is playing for a good place next year so it is not the best situation for him but Enea Bastianini is doing very well and he has a really, really strong start to the season.”

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