MotoGP

Suzuki hires ex-Honda boss as MotoGP team manager

The 2020 teams’ and riders’ world champions have been on the hunt for a team manager since Davide Brivio – who helmed the Japanese marque from 2013 – departed to join Alpine as racing director in Formula 1.

With Brivio’s exit coming on the eve of the 2021 season, Suzuki elected to form a management committee of seven high-profile members of the team helmed by project leader Shinichi Sahara.

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But discontent grew within Suzuki without anyone filling Brivio’s void, with Sahara admitting at the end of last year that his new role proved too much for him.

Suzuki was dealt a blow last week when Alpine announced a new role for Brivio, ending hopes of a return to Suzuki for the Italian – with the marque revealing earlier this month that searching for a new team manager was taking longer than expected.

Suppo was team boss at Ducati when Casey Stoner won the title in 2007, before moving to Honda in 2010 – first as marketing and communications director – where he became team principal in 2013.

He left that role at the end of 2017, with Alberto Puig taking over at the helm of Honda.

Suppo’s name has been linked to the vacant team boss role at Suzuki for some time, with the marque confirming his appointment on Wednesday.

The Spaniard says the proposal from Sahara “came at the right time” and is pleased to return to the MotoGP paddock having been missing it for a while.

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Photo by: Suzuki

“I am very proud to become Suzuki Ecstar’s Team Manager and happy to re-join the MotoGP Championship after four years,” Suppo said.

“I’m also very honoured to be involved in this great project with Suzuki; for sure it will be a challenging task to be part of an historic manufacturer in MotoGP, who recently achieved the crown in 2020 in the year of their 100th anniversary.

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“I also feel it will be a great experience to start working with two talented riders like Joan Mir and Alex Rins, both capable of fighting for the top in MotoGP.

“Sahara-san’s proposal came at the perfect time for me, I had been busy setting up my e-bike company but I was certainly missing the paddock and ready to come back.

“Racing has been my life, for almost all my career, and I will do my best to bring my experience to Team Suzuki Ecstar.

“I know they are a great team, but also a great group of humans, so this could help a lot to achieve our goals sooner.

“MotoGP nowadays is more and more exciting, with many very fast riders and competitive motorcycles from all manufacturers.

“It’s a difficult challenge for everybody involved, where all the small details can make the difference, I am ready to be part of the game again and give my all to be on top with Suzuki.”

Autosport understands Suzuki’s main target to take on the team manager role before Suppo was ex-rider and current RNF Racing Yamaha chief Wilco Zeelenberg.

However, Zeelenberg – following Petronas SRT’s rebranding for 2022 – will remain with RNF Racing in 2022.

Suzuki endured a difficult 2021 season, with 2020 world champion Joan Mir only able to score six podiums and finish third in the standings due to a lack of development with the GSX-RR.

But the Japanese marque looks to have taken a step forward with its bike in 2022 after a strong pre-season testing phase in Malaysia and Indonesia in February.

Mir was forced to miss the final day of testing in Indonesia due to illness, but believes this hasn’t harmed his preparations for the start of the new campaign.


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