Last year sometime I wrote about the possibility of Yamaha not fielding a team for the upcoming season and what type of ripple effect that might have on the sport. What I failed to do around that same time was to look who was next in line. I have been hearing for the last two years that Suzuki (Japan) has been consolidating and down sizing at a rapid pace. But what is putting Suzuki in this position and is there a high possibility that Suzuki will quickly follow Yamaha right out of the “Official” racing business.
Now we know they have officially farmed out there 250 factory effort to Bill Keefe manager of the Rockstar/Canidae team. They are loaded with rookies and set to tackle the 2011 season so not all is bad. Yet in other parts of the world Suzuki lost prised talent Ken Roczen, to what is now considered the premier team to be on, and their USA stronghold of Roger DeCoster fades into the past. What will become of Ryan Dungey and is it possible that the cost of having such long term and near perfect seasons could have crippled the company globally?
The facts are between KW’s fat cat deal, RC winning everything, CR grabbing the outdoor title, RD dominating for a year and a half and suddenly Suzuki could be reaching down to nothing but lint. So now you have to stop and think is there a trend here? Well let’s take Yamaha who was our first full time vacancy of last year. Reed did pretty well, YoT won quite a few championships, then before that was MC and Henry winning, Dowd and Windham before that. Seems to me that there easy is a pretty easy correlation between the two.
On the other side of the pond most of the Road Racing efforts are going through some pretty major changes. Their MotoGP program has been just a disaster. Suzuki has blown through their expensive allotment of engines for the season while both riders have rode injured in one way shape or form to mediocre results. Their world Superbike team just released their top talent out a year early while the Batta run team confirms they will only have one rider for next year. Suzuki is contracted to Dorna and really have no out when it comes to following Kawasaki right out of MotoGP.
Yoshimura’s name is closely related with many of the teams world wide and management of racing could find it’s way in their hands in no time. Tom Webb, the offroad manager, is penciled in to take over and Dungey is rumored to be signed, but who really knows. If they were willing to give up Haslam in WSBK, Spies in MotoGP, Roczen in GP’s, then why not give up Dungey. If Dungey does what he is hired to do and he has a guarantee on paper, then you have some counters in the Suzuki basement who are pulling the emergency chute and hoping for a soft landing.
Hopefully I am wrong and the company comes back strong, but it has to make you nervous. Thor is a company who is the middle of some big changes and with those changes you know Parts Unlimited is going through some things as well. This could be one of the biggest supporters of our sport’s future and one to keep an eye on if things continue in the direction they are.