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Suzuki also leaves the world motorcycle endurance championship

The news fell without warning in a press release on July 13: Suzuki announces that an agreement has been reached to validate its … but announces from the next line, as if nothing had happened, its decision to also leave the championship of the motorcycle endurance world!

Suzuki Motor Corporation and Dorna have reached an agreement to end Suzuki’s participation in MotoGP at the end of the 2022 season. Suzuki will also end its factory participation in the World Endurance Championship (EWC) after of the 2022 season“, indicates the builder of Hamamatsu.

This disengagement sounds the death knell of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) in its current form: Suzuki will no longer officially support this emblematic Sarthe formation created in the early 80s by Dominique Méliand, who is the most capped in the discipline with his 17 titles.

  • November 3, 2022 MNC :

SERT – taken over by Damien Saulnier following the retirement of “Chef” Méliand – had joined forces with Yoshimura to combine his mastery of the discipline with the know-how of the Japanese exhaust manufacturer, which has been preparing GSX- R competition, especially for the famous Suzuka 8 Hours (Japan).

The team – still based near the Le Mans circuit (72) – had been renamed on this occasion “Sarthe Endurance Racing Team“: should we see there a premonitory sign of this regrettable withdrawal of Suzuki a year and a half later?

“Our motivation remains unchanged”

Still, this Yoshimura-SERT association – crowned last year – occupies first place in the provisional EWC standings with its drivers Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon. Far from being discouraged, the team says on the contrary that it is already preparing for 2023…

Yoshimura Japan and SERT wish to continue the activity of Yoshimura SERT Motul in competition, and our motivation remains unchanged since the beginning of our collaboration, 18 months ago“, reacts the Franco-Japanese structure on .

(…) The drivers and the whole team continue to do everything possible to retain the title in 2022, and prepare for the 2023 season as well as possible.“, assures the SERT which is preparing for Suzuka at the beginning of August. Note the “irony of sport”: Suzuki announces its withdrawal before its home race, long considered the most important for the four Japanese…

What avenues to follow for SERT?

Two solutions are possible for the SERT: continue the adventure by its own means, like a private team with GSX-R1000 fully prepared – and paid for – in-house. Or change motorcycles, thanks to a merger with another brand: a less credible hypothesis in view of the historical links between Yoshimura and Suzuki, as well as valuable common knowledge of the “Gex”.

Suzuki also claims for its part that it wants “continue to support our customers’ racing activities through our worldwide network of distributorsIn other words: the manufacturer ceases its factory commitment, but will continue to support the private initiatives of its dealers.

Discovery Sports Events, promoter of the World Endurance Championship, also sings the praises of the teams’ private format in a reaction that downplays Suzuki’s withdrawal: “if official participation is welcome, the success of the EWC for more than 40 years owes a lot to the involvement of private teams“, estimates its director François Ribeiro.

Their support and continued investment is a big part of the success and longevity of the championship, which is why we are already looking forward to EWC 2023 with great anticipation and excitement.“, assures the boss of Discovery Sports Events.

From the race to sustainable development

To justify his withdrawal from motorcycling competition, the president of Suzuki Motor Corporation mentions “the need to reallocate resources to other sustainability-related initiatives“. Clearly: more virtuous modes of propulsion such as hydrogen and especially electric, areas not exploited to date on Suzuki two-wheelers.

According to Toshihiro Suzuki, “motorcycle racing has always favored technological innovation, including for sustainability and human resources: this decision means that we are taking up the challenge of reorienting the technological capacities and human resources that we have cultivated through racing activities motorcycles to explore other paths for a sustainable society“.

The drop in sales of Suzuki motorcycles in Europe also certainly plays a role in this decision, insofar as the influence of motorcycle sport is more concentrated on the Old Continent: Asia – a huge market for manufacturers – is also fond of MotoGP, but does not enjoy as much visibility.

Remember that out of the twenty Grands Prix scheduled, MotoGP stops four times in Spain – Aragon, Catalonia, Jerez and Valencia – and twice in Italy (Mugello and San Marino). That’s almost a third of the races!

Ditto for the world endurance championship and its calendar of – only – four events: the only foray outside Europe is the 8 Hours of Suzuka, the other three taking place in France (24 Hours of Le Mans and Bol d’Or) and in Belgium with the 24 Hours of Spa.

Far from being the most “selling” format for a generalist manufacturer, which produces far more small cars for Asia than Superbikes or roadsters for Europe. For Suzuki, in any case, the investments in motorcycle racing are no longer justified: “What’s the point of running?“, suggests this decision which throws a cold …

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