Dorna issues statement regarding Suzuki MotoGP exit

Dorna Sports have responded with a public statement to the news that Suzuki is planning to quit MotoGP at the end of 2022.

Alex Rins - Suzuki Ecstar, 2022 MotoGP

Dorna Sports, the commercial and TV rights holder for the MotoGP World Championship, has released a statement in response to the news that Suzuki intends to leave the championship at the end of this current season.

The news that Suzuki is planning to quit MotoGP at the end of 2022 came to light yesterday (2 May 2022) while the MotoGP teams and riders were in the middle of their first in-season IRTA test of the season at Jerez. 

No official statement from Suzuki has yet been released, but Dorna has responded to the news today (3 May 2022) with a statement in which it says, “Following recent rumours of Suzuki departing MotoGP at the end of 2022, Dorna Sports has officially contacted the factory in order to remind them that the conditions of their contract to race in MotoGP do not allow for them to take this decision unilaterally.”

The statement from Dorna continues, “However, should Suzuki depart following an agreement between both parties, Dorna will decide on the ideal number of riders and teams racing in the MotoGP class from 2023.”

Finally, Dorna says, “Dorna continues to receive high levels of interest from a number of both official factories and Independent Teams looking to join the MotoGP™ grid as the sport continues to set a global example of close competition, innovation and entertainment, reaching hundreds of millions of fans around the world.” Dorna also adds that “Interest from these parties has been re-confirmed in the past 24 hours.”

Ultimately, the statement from Dorna is a reference to the contract signed by all the factories currently competing in MotoGP that came into effect this year, and which guarantees their competition in the MotoGP World Championship until the end of 2026. 

That Suzuki has decided so early in 2022 to leave the championship means it has also decided to break its contract with Dorna. This means that whatever financial penalty is resultant of Suzuki’s withdrawal from the MotoGP World Championship, the financial penalty of remaining in the championship for the rest of the contract is worse. Either that, or Suzuki’s decision is nonsensical. 

David Emmett wrote on Motomatters yesterday: “Paddock rumour suggests that one of the things Livio Suppo had been brought into Suzuki to do was to make budget cuts where possible.” The assumption must be that said budget cuts were not sufficient for Suzuki to remain in MotoGP. 

Dorna is clearly not just disappointed that Suzuki is leaving, but also angry that it should believe it possible to abandon a contract it has signed with the Spanish company, hence its public ‘reminder’ to the Hamamatsu factory of its contractual situation.

It is also interesting that Dorna should choose to express that it has already had an increase in interest from both factories and potential satellite teams about entering MotoGP in 2023. Surely, Dorna would like to keep the championship’s grid at 24 bike if it is possible, but finding the correct people to ensure that is not straightforward. 

On the factory side of things, BMW already have marketing power through MotoGP as the supplier of the championship’s safety and medical cars, while Kawasaki’s factory efforts have long been totally focussed on WorldSBK, where they have won seven out of the last nine world titles. 

Outside of those two, it is difficult to see who would become the new sixth manufacturer in MotoGP, unless KTM chose to buy up the Suzuki grid slots and rebrand the two new bikes as GasGas or Husqvarna, and perhaps paint Tech 3 in either white or red as well. As has become clear in KTM’s motocross and off-road competition, such rebranding is not necessarily a downgrade. Such a choice by KTM could also see a return to the premier class of Aspar, since it is the Spanish team that runs as GasGas in Moto3 and Moto2. 

But, perhaps Marc VDS will return, or maybe Intact GP or the Pons team. Much is unclear, and by the sounds of it Dorna are not even totally convinced that Suzuki will be able to leave the championship even if it wants to. And, of course, we are still awaiting official public confirmation from Suzuki that their intention is to leave the series.