MotoGP: Suzuki, are they riding under the radar?
Everything is not as it seems with Suzuki, riding much better than what they are being given credit for.
If you peruse the current MotoGP world championship standings, you will find it to be quite deceptive and not necessarily reflective of how good some riders have been in the first few races of this 2020 MotoGP season. This is particularly the case for the Factory Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP squad, as well as their riders, Spaniards Joan Mir and Alex Rins. In this piece, we will elaborate on whether Suzuki are genuine title contenders whom, in the midst of the craziest MotoGP season in years, are simply caught up in the drama of every race weekend so far, and are simply riding under the radar, potentially to their benefit.
Suzuki have a long and prestigious history within the realms of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Simply cast your mind back to such legendary names as that of Barry Sheene, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr. It is remarkably easy to forget that Suzuki have actually won 5 more world championships than that of Italian giants Ducati (Suzuki hold six to their name; Ducati the sole title won by Aussie Casey Stoner in 2007.) Even prior to their leaving MotoGP in 2011, Suzuki maintained big names in the MotoGP world such as Chris Vermeulen, Loris Capirossi and John Hopkins. Thankfully, they returned in 2015 and have been steady competitors ever since.
In 2019, Spaniard Alex Rins sensationally earned 2 wins onboard the GSX-RR, coming at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas as well as sensationally pipping current world champion Marc Marquez to the win on the last straight by just 0.013 seconds in Silverstone. His teammate, fellow Spaniard and 2019 rookie Joan Mir got a best race result of fifth and was only beaten to “best newcomer of the season” by Yamaha ace Fabio Quartararo.
Even at the beginning of this already hectic season, the Suzuki has been extremely impressive in all of their showings at Jerez, Brno and Austria so far. In fact, current championship leader Fabio Quartararo was quoted by Motorsport.com as being of the opinion that:
“For me, the Suzuki is really impressive…it looks like the bike is turning so well, stopping so well, the top speed is also much higher than our bike.” Indeed, Rins displayed multiple examples of the GSX-RR’s sensational cornering ability by undercutting the Ducati and KTM on multiple occasions prior to unfortunately crashing out in the first race in Austria, whilst Mir demonstrated the bike’s incredible balance and speed on the straights by even outrunning Pol Espargaro’s KTM RC16 and Jack Miller’s Ducati Desmosedici. In fact, Mir could justifiably feel aggrieved in Spielberg, as he was dominating by over two seconds prior to the introduction of the Red flag as a direct result of Maverick Vinales’ horror brake failure at turn 3. It is highly likely that Mir would have gone on to secure his maiden win in MotoGP but for this unfortunate event.
On the positive side, Mir was able to secure his maiden podium in the first race in Austria ahead of Pramac’s Jack Miller who he overtook at the final corner to take second place, whilst Alex Rins has fought brilliantly despite suffering an extremely difficult shoulder injury in Jerez. Joan Mir currently sits seventh in the world championship, just 26 points from championship leader Quartararo, whilst Rins has done very well to hold onto thirteenth despite being injured.
The question is raised, therefore, of whether Suzuki are genuine championship contenders who are simply riding under the radar. It would appear that this perception has been largely enhanced by the rapid rise of KTM’s fortunes so far this season; clearly then, their successes are possibly overshadowing the overall ability and balance of the machine that team principal Davide Brivio and the entire Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team have been able to craft.
Given their ability to match and even outrun the pace of the Ducati on the straights, as well as their lauded capability against any bike in the corners, it would appear as though Suzuki are the genuine dark horse manufacturer this season. Additionally, being coupled with two riders who are very smooth and extremely fast on a stylistically well-matching bike in the GSX-RR makes for very positive thinking for Davide Brivio and the rest of the Suzuki Ecstar outfit. It is strongly argued that Suzuki have managed to craft the most well-balanced bike on the grid along with KTM.
Featured image – www.motogp.com
Written by Keelin McNamara