2016 Aragon GP. After obtaining in 2016 their first victory (in Silverstone) after their return to the races, the MotoGP Suzuki project was going well. In Motorland of that same season, Maverick Viñales put the GSX-RR onto the front row of the starting grid next to Marc Márquez’s RCV and Jorge Lorenzo’s M1. The next day, the Spanish rider led the race and fought with the two champions. Viñales crossed the finish line in fourth position, just over two seconds behind Valentino Rossi; Aleix Espargaró, the other Suzuki rider, finished seventh… The MotoGP Suzuki project seemed to be on rails.
2017 Aragon GP. The faces in the Suzuki box reflect the state of things. In a season where frustration has marked the team since the first GP, the result from Motorland has been like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Iannone’s tenth starting grid spot was not the worst of the season and his race, in which he started 10th and finished 12th, was not below the range of his season. But what was embarrassing in Aragon was the fact that an Aprilia and two KTMs finished the race ahead of the best finishing Suzuki. We are talking about two brands with far less experience in a category as difficult as MotoGP, and two projects that began well after Suzuki did. With that in view, it was an embarrassing situation indeed.
Suzuki is at the tail end of the six factories participating in MotoGP; it’s an embarrassing situation indeed.
But aside from bad results, the worst part of the Suzuki crisis is the manifest lack of harmony between the parties that need to work together to move the project forward. Let’s take it for granted that there is some important error in the technical development of the bike that last year left the impression that it was on the way to join the club where the big three are –Honda, Yamaha and Ducati-. A mistake that has Suzuki at the tail end of the six factories participating in MotoGP.
It’s a complicated situation, but in racing there is always time to rectify poor results. With the current regulation that freezes engines for a whole season, the time it takes to rectify a situation is longer, but to fully get out of such a situation it is essential that all parties have the same objectives, including the factory in Japan, the people working at the races and the riders. And this is not what is happening in the team managed by Davide Brivio.
It can’t be denied that Andrea started the season with motivation and positivity, but the succession of crashes and/or lack of results has completely eliminated any positive attitude.
We are referring to the current attitude that Iannone has adopted at some point in the season. It can’t be denied that Andrea started the season with motivation and positivity, but the succession of crashes and/or lack of results has completely eliminated any positive attitude. He not only does nothing to hide it, but there are times when he seems to want to put out fire with gasoline. All this has led to a situation where this rider has no confidence in those who are supposed to solve his problems, and the team no longer sees the rider as one of their own. Complicated.
Meanwhile, Alex Rins’ adaptation to the big class is slow. The crashes in Valencia in the first preseason test and the fall at the 2017 Argentina GP meant that for the Spanish rookie the season actually began in Austria – the 11th GP race of the season. Without the reference of his teammate – who is not there and not expected to be – the uphill climb is even steeper. His performance is intermittent, a combination of hopeful and frustrating performances, which re-open the question of whether it is the rider or the bike.
The team is already working towards 2018. Unlike the other factories, practice outside the races takes place at the circuits after said races, to provide references for testing the 2018prototypes. It’s certainly a trying year for Suzuki, but they are managing the crisis by pulling from the experience gained from so many years in the races. From the technical side, recovery is always possible. But in this case, the truly complicated factor is the human one, read: the riders.