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Kevin Schwantz on the future of Suzuki MotoGP Sport Rider

19 Feb 2015 | ຜູ້ຂຽນ: | ຄໍາເຫັນເບີ ກ່ຽວກັບ Kevin Schwantz on the future of Suzuki MotoGP Sport Rider
Suzuki GP 100

Kevin Schwantz on the future of Suzuki in MotoGP

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Kevin Schwantz hasn’t lost the desire to win that took him to the 1993 500cc World Championship, which makes what’s happening at Suzuki that much harder to watch.

In the 153 races of the MotoGP era, both 990cc and 800cc, Suzuki has a grand total of one win, by Chris Vermeulen in worsening weather conditions at the 2007 French Grand Prix in Le Mans. This year Spaniard Alvaro Bautista finished 13th overall, with a best of fifth place twice, while Loris Capirossi ended a career worst 16th after failing to finish half the races.

One of the low points of the Suzuki MotoGP era came in last year’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Vermeulen qualified 15th with a time of 1:32.338. Riding a Honda CBR1000RR under the restrictive Aussie Superbike rules, Wayne Maxwell’s fastest lap on Dunlop race tires was a 1:32.316.

Maxwell’s lap wasn’t much faster than Vermeulen’s, but considering the level of equipment—the Suzuki was worth at least 100 times as much as the production Honda—the difference was a huge embarrassment for the MotoGP team.

Schwantz has been interested in team management for several years. There have been flirtations from time to time—there was talk he was going to set up a team under Jorge “Aspar” Martinez a few years back—but his only team management role came when he led the American Honda Moto2 team in this year’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

He remains close to a number of team members, including Stuart Shenton, his crew chief from the 90’s who was recently laid off along with a number of other team members. Though Schwantz isn’t Suzuki’s most recent world champion—Kenny Roberts Jr. won the ‘00 500cc World Championship—he is their most iconic modern champion and beloved worldwide.

With the MotoGP engine displacement increasing to 1000cc in 2012, and production-based engines being allowed, Schwantz saw an opportunity to give Suzuki a head start. He wanted to spearhead a test team that would develop the 1000 with young riders in 2011, while also giving them a chance to do a few wild cards. And he also didn’t want Suzuki to be stuck with just one rider at every race in 2011.

“I said that to Suzuki, I said, ‘Hey, here’s a way to not have to be confronted with that loophole of you guys only having one rider (which) is going to make a bunch of people mad,” he said. “The response I got back from them was, ‘We’re not interested in that. How about we lease you bikes for €8 million ($10.93 million)?’ And I just never even responded. Are you kidding?” Asked if that was for one or two riders, Schwantz said he “never even asked for verification. You know, you can get Hondas right now for three (€3 million /$4.1 million) for one rider and a spare.”

The Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team under Paul Denning isn’t going anywhere and hasn’t for some time. Certainly there’s plenty of blame to go around, but ultimately it falls on the team leader. Denning has repeatedly expressed his disappointment with the team’s performance, but nothing much has changed.

And the team has become something of a laughing stock, especially considering how seriously racing is taken by Yamaha, Honda, and Ducati.

ຢູ່​ທີ່ 2010 season finale in Valencia, Suzuki announced they were cutting back to one rider, the Spaniard Bautista. Well before then, Capirossi had moved on to the Pramac Racing Ducati team.

Suzuki GP 100

There was some belief Suzuki was under pressure from series organizers Dorna to field two bikes, but they believe they’re operating within the confines of the contract, which expires after 2011.

Knowing that, Schwantz went to Dorna to propose a test team that would be a precursor to the 2012 MotoGP team. “We’re going to start developing that 1000cc production bike engine, build our own chassis, try and come up with something that we can be more competitive than these two guys…and kind of where they are with the bike right now,” Schwantz said, “and the authorities at Dorna, I mean (CEO) Carmelo (Ezpeleta), thought it was great.” Schwantz wanted to use the second Suzuki GSV-R800 as a wild card bike, working with a variety of young riders in different countries, working with different team members and “try and get things set up so that in 2012 you run the team, these guys have your bikes in place, your supplies; because it’s production-based you have two bikes as the factory team and supply another to the satellite team.”

The initial response was that Suzuki was cutting back to one rider, which Schwantz doesn’t feel is going to save much money. He pointed out that they were “still going to have to take two trucks. They’re going to fly so many people in. It’s not going to be a half of the expense saving.

You’re still going to be spending three-quarters of the money.” And the development of the 1000 will be done in Japan, using Suzuki’s test riders and Suzuki’s test track.

“I feel like if we had the opportunity to do four or five wild cards, half a dozen wild cards next years, some different riders, different countries, maybe some up and coming people, start to try some new staff in the team, we’d be able to test our 1000s, ride the 800 and go, ‘Wow, this thing does this. This thing doesn’t do any of that,’” Schwantz said. “You’d have a really good comparison and a benchmark to run off of. But I guess they feel like engine-wise, chassis-wise, maybe development-wise, everyone wants to stay closer to the heart of where changes could be made at Suzuki right now, instead of sending the engine out, sending the chassis out.

“Everybody that I tell about what it is that I’ve done or what I’ve tried to do, ‘Why do you even bother?’ And I guess it’s because I know all the guys in the garage as well as I do and I know that manufacturer and I know Suzuki and I know what they’re capable of building. I think they need a little bit of direction. They need somebody that can get in there and sell the package and come up and try to find some funding.

I’m not saying I can step in and find $10 million for them.

“When I mentioned the test team, I actually had a person who was willing to fund the test team to a certain extent as long as he knew in 2012 the grand prix team at the factory was going to be mine. And they rejected that as well.” Schwantz’s belief is that if Suzuki thought he had money for the test team, “I’d have €8 million to lease an 800.”

Suzuki GP 100


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