The question that is on everyone’s mind while waiting for Suzuki to officially confirm its withdrawal from MotoGP is which team will replace them in 2023. The current MotoGP grid has 24 machines and 12 teams, and, according to Carmelo Ezpeleta, head of championship promoter Dorna Sports, that is its ideal make-up. It is therefore to be expected, that Dorna will soon get to work so that the vacant spot left by Suzuki is promptly filled.
On the other hand, when we look at the variety of brands, the current composition of the World Championship is far from ideal. Ducati alone, for instance, has four teams and eight bikes in the current competition. With neither Aprilia nor Suzuki able to lure a private team to join the official one for 2022, the squad from Borgo Panigale had to come to the rescue. In the absence of alternatives and despite not being ideal from a competitive point of view, this emergency solution was accepted as the lesser of all evils.
From their institutional position, Dorna has played down the gravity of the situation caused by Suzuki’s departure, reassuring the public that there are already several candidates to take its place in 2023:
“Dorna continues to receive high levels of interest from a number of both official factories and Independent Teams looking to join the MotoGP grid”.
The current international financial crisis, aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that followed the COVID pandemic, is not the most favourable environment to enter an expensive sports venture.
Aprilia: Favourites to replace Suzuki
According to most specialists, Aprilia is the main candidate to replace Suzuki. The manufacturer needs to maintain its level of technical development after achieving great growth this season. In order to do this, there is no better way than having a second team collecting a great amount of valuable information on the track, and acting as a test bench in races.
That move could also trigger another development in the team from Noale. The WithU RNF team, current customers of Yamaha, could contemplate changing to the Italian brand. Its current contract with the Iwata manufacturer is in fact expiring at the end of 2022. Aprilia would not only be a cheaper option than Yamaha, but they would welcome the arrival of a team with an Italian sponsor, as is the case with the WithU RNF.
Regardless of what the final decision is, it would still be essential for a new independent formation to join. This would either have to take charge of the two private Yamaha motorcycles, now rented to the aforementioned WithU RNF, or ‘inherit’ the two Suzuki bikes, in the event of Aprilia not being able to incorporate a private team. That solution was already made to work in 2009 when Kawasaki abandoned MotoGP and its management team personally went on to manage the bikes.
Whatever it might be, losing a historic manufacturer, despite its comings and goings in the World Championship, and the 2020 champion bike, constitutes a serious setback for a competition that is not going through the best of times.Besides, orphan of its most legendary character, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP is now concerned that the idol of recent years, Marc Márquez, has not been able to get back on its feet because of his Honda.
Images of Suzuki: MotoGP.