Suzuki exits MotoGP | Which teams could replace it in the top flight?

Suzuki's exit from MotoGP will leave two very tempting vacant slots on the 2023 MotoGP World Championship grid - which teams are best placed to secure them?

Joan Mir - Suzuki


Suzuki is on the cusp of confirming its exit from the MotoGP World Championship to leave two tempting entry places on the grid that commercial rights holder Dorna will be actively seeking to fill.

While the news is yet to be officially confirmed by Suzuki itself, multiple sources have confirmed the team - including riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins - were informed of the shock decision after Monday’s test at Jerez.

Its unexpected exit at the start of its deal with Dorna that was supposed to commit it to the series until the end of 2026, means the grid will likely shrink to 22 bikes again in 2023, having only just risen to 24 with the return of Gresini Racing.

Dorna has previously indicated a desire to have at least 26 bikes on the grid - going up to a maximum of 28 - in the near future, but it is unlikely to appreciate a slip to 22. 

Any direct replacement for 2023 would need to be limited to the addition of a privateer or satellite effort using factory-supplied machinery, though Dorna might be motivated to seek a factory alternative for 2024. But which teams and manufacturers could find itself being offered a tempting deal to progress to MotoGP in future?

Maverick Vinales, Aleix Espargaro - Aprilia Racing

Aprilia satellite team

With Suzuki and Aprilia standing out among the six manufacturer entries as not having an associated satellite team, the exit of Suzuki further highlights Aprilia’s relative lack of presence on the grid.

Even so, Aprilia has repeatedly stated it has every intention of adding a satellite effort once its RS-GP was more competitive, an objective it has certainly fulfilled this season with its first win of the modern MotoGP era in the hands of Aleix Espargaro.

Truthfully, it had every intention of running a second team in 2022 with Gresini Racing, its collaborative partner prior to this season before its plan to take the effort in-house, but the Italian team chose Ducati instead.

As for which team could be brought on to run the bid is less clear with a number of well-sorted Moto2 and Moto3 outfits potentially in the running, such as Leopard Racing or - poignantly - SIC58, owned by Paolo Simoncelli, father of late ex-Aprilia 250GP and MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli.

Suzuki “Hayate”

With Suzuki’s departure bearing similarities to that of Kawasaki’s exit from the sport in 2009, there is the possibility its GSX-RR machines could live on in 2023 under a new privateer team effort not associated with Suzuki, just as the ZX-RR did under the Hayate banner.

However, this would be an unlikely scenario since Kawasaki’s decision to leave MotoGP came after it had completed much of the legwork on development of its ZX-RR. Then again, if Suzuki was open to selling its one-year old bikes, they would surely still be relatively competitive for a year or two.

Jake Dixon - GASGAS Aspar

GASGAS - KTM

KTM has been quick to express an interest in securing Suzuki’s grid slots, motivated by a desire to potentially get one of its other associated brands on the grid in GASGAS.

The Spanish MX specialists were bought out by KTM’s Pierer Group parent company in 2019 and quickly moved into short circuit racing with an entry into the 2021 Moto3 World Championship before expanding into Moto2 for 2022.

Though the effort is purely a rebrand effort of existing KTM machinery in Moto3 and essentially a title sponsor in Moto2, it would run as a sixth constructor entry in MotoGP. Moreover, it would be Spanish flagged, which would no doubt appeal to Dorna.

With KTM irked that Dorna has allowed Ducati to swell to eight bikes on the grid - a figure that will look particularly large with one less manufacturer to balance it - it might also encourage the Austrian manufacturer to look at introducing an effort from Chinese partners CFMoto down the line.

Simone Corsi - MV Agusta Forward F2 Moto2

MV Agusta

MV Agusta has indicated grand plans to join MotoGP in future and has already dipped its toe into GP waters with a modestly competitive Moto2 effort. The Italian manufacturer is on the verge of a major range expansion following a significant reorganisation effort and fresh investment from new CEO Timur Sardarov.

These plans ultimately include a return to MotoGP to evoke the golden era of the 60s and 70s when it and Giacomo Agostini were all-conquering. However, this remains some years away, with MV Agusta unlikely to be in a position to commit to MotoGP as early as 2024.

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team

Kawasaki - BMW

Two major sporting manufacturers that prefer to ply their trade in WorldSBK, neither BMW nor Kawasaki have designs on switching to MotoGP.

Indeed, Kawasaki controversially left MotoGP - angering Dorna in the process - in 2009 in favour of piling resources into WorldSBK, a strategy that turned it from also-rans to multiple champions so is unlikely to rock the boat in the near future.

BMW, meanwhile, have been approached on numerous occasions and even has a presence in MotoGP as the official safety car supplier. However, with its factory WorldSBK team struggling for competitiveness and the added pressure of anticipated success from the off, BMW is likely to swerve the premier class unless there is a major regulation change.

Dennis Foggia - Leopard Racing

Moto2 or Moto3 privateer promotion

Though the original MotoGP contracts with Dorna stated there would be no addition of a fully privateer team until 2026, Suzuki’s exit looks set to change its stance to give it the best chance of filling the two spots.

As such, a privateer Moto2 or Moto3 team could make the step as early as next year if it can secure a supply of bikes from one of the manufacturers. One of these could end up becoming the Aprilia satellite team, though it’s unlikely Ducati will be permitted to expand to a fifth team and KTM will only enter a third team under its own branding.

Which leaves Honda and Yamaha, both of which have the potential resources to supply a third team. Honda could see this as an opportunity to create a Honda Team Asia MotoGP effort in order to keep Takaaki Nakagami on the grid since the Japanese rider is expected to be replaced by Ai Ogura for 2023.

Yamaha, meanwhile, has noticeably distanced itself from the rebranded RNF Yamaha squad and thus could see this as an opportunity to bring on a more favourable partner. That said, this could motivate the Malaysian-flagged RNF Yamaha to exit the series altogether as a result.

As for privateer teams with the backing and resources to move into MotoGP, multiple Moto3 champions Leopard Racing have shown an interest previously and were up against VR46 Racing to take on the Avintia Racing effort.

Moreover, American Racing could provide a solution for Dorna to get some much desired US representation on the grid.