John Hopkins’ move to World Superbike was almost certainly confirmed with Suzuki announcing their withdrawal from MotoGP for at least two years, which was reported by www.cyclenews.com earlier this week.
The company issued a press release stating that they were going to “suspend temporarily its participation in FIM Road Racing Grand Prix MotoGP from 2012” and not return before 2014. The reasons they gave “tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese yen and repeated natural disasters.”
Another factor is the lack of a competitive machine. One of the early plans was to start the 2012 season on the current GSV-R800 before transitioning to a 1000cc motorcycle. But that was a plan hatched out of desperation due to continuous problems in the development of the GSV-R1000.Suzuki has been hit hard by the continued depressed level of motorcycle sales, especially in the U.S. where sportbike and motocross models have been hit especially hard. At the recent EICMA show in Milan they were the only major manufacturer to not unveil a new model.The MotoGP team has been aware of Suzuki’s intention for weeks. Alvaro Bautista, who rode the Rizla Suzuki for the past two seasons, signed on with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. John Hopkins, who was hopeful of moving up to MotoGP after finishing second aboard the Samsung Crescent Suzuki in British Superbike, is all but certain to move to World Superbike with his BSB team. An announcement is expected shortly.
Suzuki’s release said it would “continue motocross racing activity and support of road racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles, by obtaining FIM homologation and co-operation with the supplier of its development racing kit parts.” That speaks to both World Superbike and AMA Superbike, though in the case of the U.S. most of the support comes from the American distributor. American Suzuki has cut support for most of its road race teams over the past few years, sending some to see alternative options. But switching brands is nothing if not expensive, which is why the main Suzuki-supported teams remain with the company despite diminished support.