Suzuki’s Planned MotoGP Exit [VP Interview + Commentary]

Suzuki's Alex Rins MotoGP Qualifying 2019 Assen
Suzuki's Alex Rins

The recent news from the MotoGP paddock concerning Suzuki’s proposed withdrawal from the MotoGP race series at the end of 2022, came as an unexpected shock to everyone—not least the team itself.

Reactions across the board ranged from sadness, disappointment, and even some anger. Many people expressed that several years of total commitment, massive effort by everyone in the team, and a wealth of hard-won experience and development knowledge, are all about to be completely wasted.

Naturally, the exit brought up several questions about Suzuki’s commitment to racing in general, its commitment to doing business in the US, and perhaps even to its place in the global powersports industry itself.

The Author riding the 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa.

As with all these types of announcements, rumors quickly circulate, uninformed commentary follows, and the brand in question takes a hit.

Today, I spoke with Suzuki Motor USA Vice President, Division Manager MC/ATV Sales and Marketing, Kerry Graeber, about Suzuki’s future plans. Here’s my takeaway from the conversation:

  • Suzuki Motor Corporation is negotiating with series owner Dorna on an exit plan to depart MotoGP at the end of this current 2022 season.
  • Suzuki is adjusting to a rapidly changing world and the current global economic conditions. The decision to leave MotoGP is part of Suzuki’s strategy to carefully allocate future resources to ensure the health and vibrancy of Suzuki’s overall business.
  • Suzuki is committed to developing its business, particularly in the areas of sustainability, carbon neutrality, and alternative fuel technologies.
  • As a means to market and develop its products, Suzuki plans to continue with its racing programs and promotions. These include MotoAmerica Road Racing, AMA Supercross/Motocross, and NHRA Pro Stock Drag Racing.
  • Suzuki is fully committed to the motorcycle category and will continue to deliver premium machines to its dealers and customers.
  • Suzuki will continue to work hard to invest in and grow its motorcycle business in the US.
  • Suzuki’s recent successes of the new Hayabusa, new GSX-S1000, and new GSX-S1000GT/GT+ all demonstrate that the future is very strong for Suzuki in the US.
  • These new models are just the beginning of a series of new Suzuki motorcycles due for introduction in the near future.

The bottom line is that Suzuki is not “in trouble”. It’s just that an incredibly expensive, highly exotic type of racing no longer fits with the Suzuki business goals—simple as that. Suzuki feels there is no point in continuing to expend hard-earned resources on an activity that no longer fits those goals. Suzuki products are undoubtedly a success, especially in the US, and Suzuki fully intends to continue developing and selling powersports products in America.

Editor Don Williams riding the new 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+.

If you’re a MotoGP fan, this move seems like a dumb move at best—and a catastrophic one at worst. However, if you’re not into MotoGP, this decision is understandable.

However, having decided to withdraw, announcing it as quickly as possible makes sense. This gives everyone involved time to plan their futures. That’s preferable to not saying anything and allowing the rumor mill to continue grinding. How ugly would that be?

We have to allow that Suzuki management knows its business best. Clearly, the powers-that-be will always make what it considers to be the best decisions possible to ensure the company’s future health, and the development of new products that the public will want to buy.

I am personally a big fan of MotoGP, so I’m filled with sadness that Suzuki will not be on the grid in 2023. However, it’s encouraging to see the MotoGP resources being focused on developing new products for the global and US market.

Here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we are very relieved to hear that, far from circling the drain, Suzuki Motor USA is actually in a very healthy position. Onwards and upwards!