Having previously announced their intention to leave MotoGP, after just one year of a five-year contract, Suzuki has now formally concluded negotiations to sever their MotoGP agreement with Dorna.

The Japanese factory has a long and illustrious history in grand prix, winning its most recent world championship with Joan Mir in 2000.

However, the announcement also revealed that Suzuki is also pulling out of the Endurance World Championship, which the ‘Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) has won eight times since 2007, including the last two seasons.

“Maybe they needed the Endurance money to pay off Dorna for the MotoGP situation!” began former British champion and Grand Prix rider Huewen, who took his best 500GP result of fifth place on a Suzuki in 1983.

“There are other Suzuki teams that will be factory backed, but the actual full-factory team, underwritten by Hamamatsu, is no more.

“I think that's probably a bigger deal than pulling out of MotoGP, to be honest. I mean Suzuki were so embedded in the Endurance World Championship. I find it astonishing - and the way it came out, just one little line in the press release.

“But, and I've touched on this several times, because of the war in Ukraine, the financial situation and so on - it is having a massive effect in boardrooms on the other side of the world.

“Yes, it's going to cost them a lot of money and Dorna will have come to a reasonable agreement with the Japanese, but the fact they pulled out of MotoGP having only just signed for another five years is remarkable.

“It's almost knee jerk, but I think that the world economy is in such a situation at the moment and the smaller factories, in this case Suzuki, have to take this massive, massive couple of steps.

“It's actually a bit scary really. I hate being the doom monger for the world situation, but I still think we've got more of this to shake out. Everybody will be looking at their books at the moment.

“We've been here before with world recessions, where it's really affected racing to the point where - if you go back as far as my day - Superstock became the top class in the British Championships.

“I hope it never gets to that situation again, but we are in for a very difficult time come the winter and into 2023.”

‘Some factories now see motorsport as expendable’

Asked by podcast host Harry Benjamin about Suzuki’s decision to pursue new sustainability initiatives rather than direct involvement in motorsport, Crash.net MotoGP editor Pete McLaren added:

“I think this is a warning not just for MotoGP but all major motorsport championships, that some factories now see motorsport as expendable. Because this is basically Suzuki closing their factory racing activities, as far as I can see.

“Suzuki mentions sustainability, but you’ve got MotoGP going to carbon-free fuels from 2024. So the sustainability angle in MotoGP is coming in now, and yet it’s almost like someone has hit the panic button and everyone has rushed out of MotoGP in the first year of a five year contract.

“It's a bit worrying for any major motorsport championship. We've seen factories pull out of individual series, but to actually pull out of everything factory racing-wise is very different.

“Suzuki are going to support their distributor network, but those are not engineers who will be re-designing the bikes. As valiant as the distributors’ efforts are in promoting national racing, it’s a different level to factory support, factory engineering,

“And where do all these Suzuki engineers go now? If I was Yamaha, I'd be on the phone to some of these guys, who have made a big jump with that Suzuki MotoGP engine this year, which also happens to be the same kind of [inline] engine configuration as the Yamaha.

“The corporate mentality in Japan means you normally don’t switch brands as an employee, but when your department is being effectively being closed down – what do you do as a Suzuki designer if, after working on the engine for Joan Mir and Alex Rins, your next option is to be moved to some kind of ‘sustainability’ division? Electric scooters or something.

“Where's the attraction in that for these top-level racing engineers? There’s some extremely talented people at Suzuki, they have a reputation for punching above their weight resource-wise, as quite a small racing department. They’ve done exceptionally well with what they’ve got.

“Let’s hope those people can find other roles, but it will mean moving elsewhere, because it looks like Suzuki and racing is effectively over.”

The trio also reflect on the career of triple MotoGP title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso, who will leave MotoGP at the end of this season, discuss the latest injury update from Marc Marquez, plus Pedro Acosta’s Moto2 season as well as more listener questions.

Keith Huewen: ‘Pecco’s a gentleman’

Huewen also explained that he and Francesco Bagnaia have made peace following the brief tweet (subsequently deleted) issued by the Italian star, who felt the headline-grabbing ‘idiot’ comments from Huewen in regard to his recent drink-driving incident lacked 'respect'.

“Pecco’s a gentleman. He's a very fast motorcycle racer and I have huge respect for him. I have to say, initially, it was probably not quite the same the other way around!” Huewen said.

“I think the problem with social media is that the headline, naturally, highlighted the key word, which was idiot!

“So he did what we all do and fired one back at me. Which was quite polite in itself. He said, ‘have I ever been rude to you? I expect the same kind of respect’.

“Well, he has my respect, clearly. But the snag was that he hadn't listened to the whole podcast until after we had conversed.

“He's not ever going to agree with the word ‘idiot’. Maybe it has a slightly different translation in Italian. We've all been idiots at something at some stage, and it's a fairly mild thing to be called, I've got to say.

“But we will meet at the next round at Silverstone and all is cool in the Bagnaia-Huewen camp, it would seem.

“If you think about it, he's going to be feeling fairly battered. He's made a mistake. Drink driving is not an issue that you can hide away from anymore. It's a major issue, particularly if you're a racing rider or driver, getting caught drink-driving is probably up there when it comes to the list of no-nos.

“There will be pushback from sponsors and people involved. But, like we said last time Pete, this could become a positive [if Bagnaia now promotes] a zero tolerance of drink-driving, meaning no drinks if you are going to drive.

“There's no way he's ever going to do it again. He got caught out. He made a mistake and he will pay for it from a legal point of view. But hopefully from a professional point of view, it will just be used to promote zero tolerance when it comes to drink driving.

“Everybody wins out of that.”

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