UPDATE: 12/05/2022: Suzuki has all but confirmed that it is leaving MotoGP at the end of 2022 with a brief statement, citing its economical situation and changes in the automotive landscape. Suzuki’s official statement is as follows:
‘Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending its participation in MotoGP at the end of 2022.
‘Unfortunately, the current economical situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the Automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to shift costs and human resources to develop new technologies.
‘We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our Suzuki Ecstar Team, to all those who have supported Suzuki’s motorcycle racing activities for many years and to all Suzuki fans who have given us their enthusiastic support.’
03/05/2022: Shock revelations that Suzuki intends to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of the 2022 season, as published by various outlets this morning, raises questions about its most-iconic GSX-R superbike nameplate.
At time of writing, the media and fans alike eagerly await official word from Suzuki, which has yet to publicly address the rumour that it is exiting MotoGP at year’s end.
It is difficult to not interpret Suzuki’s silence as confirmation of the rumour, although it leaves the door wide open for speculation as to why such a decision has been made.
The easy answer is that the high cost of racing at the top level has been deemed no longer viable, after all, it was for financial reasons that Suzuki temporarily withdrew from the premier class back in 2012-2014.
However, this time around the decision seems more abrupt, particularly given the huge strides the Suzuki MotoGP team has made in recent years, securing a world championship in 2020, and now regularly fighting at the front of the field.
One theory is that Suzuki is following the shift away from litre-class hero models at a consumer level to instead focus its efforts on more popular segments and future alternatively powered motorcycles.
Honda, while still heavily involved in racing, is following a similar path in investing resources into electric bike development while consolidating its supersports portfolio. In Australia, its current generation Fireblade is only offered in flagship CBR1000RR-R SP guise at $52,429 rideaway.
The long-running Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 have been discontinued locally, leaving the GSX-R1000 ($23,190) and flagship GSX-R1000R ($26,490) its only sports offerings.
Is it possible that Suzuki plans to discontinue the GSX-R nameplate entirely?
According to Suzuki Motorcycles Australia national marketing manager Lewis Croft, the GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 remained strong sellers until their discontinuation, and were only dropped from the line-up as they no longer met standard-fit ABS requirements. These models have also been pulled from markets that observe Euro5 emissions standards.
The litre-class Suzuki GSX-R1000 remains although it has not had a considerable performance update in some years, and therefore no longer seriously runs with superbike heavy hitters like the Yamaha YZF-R1, BMW S 1000 RR and Ducati Panigale V4.
“If you look at the sales in Australia, the sports market is actually quite small,” Suzuki Motorcycles Australia’s Lewis Croft told INFO MOTO.
“The old adage of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ is a bit of a thing of the past,” Mr Croft said, referring to the connection between race wins and showroom sales.
Suzuki’s product releases in recent times can only be described as conservative, though not unsuccessful. The Hayabusa, V-Strom adventure models, GSX-S1000 naked and recently launched GSX-S1000GT sports tourer all follow a similar theme – utilising existing drivetrain and chassis components, adding modern electronic additions and minor enhancements.
This strategy has actually worked remarkably well for Suzuki in minimising costs and allowing it to undercut its rivals on value in key segments. Traditionally sports purchasers have been less budget driven, placing litre bikes in a no man’s land in a new climate where other segments are dominant at showroom level for Suzuki .
If the GSX-R1000 is to remain an important fixture in the Suzuki line-up, there will need to be a new model, and soon, reflecting a commitment to sports that Suzuki’s rumoured decision to leave MotoGP simply doesn’t support.
Spencer has a keen eye for hard news, and does some of his best living on deadline day. He loves more than anything to travel on his motorcycle, and is adamant that Melbourne Bitter is a world-class lager. He also knows how to operate the big computery thing in the office. By night, Spencer plays guitar with Melbourne punk outfit LOUTS.