Phillip Island, Australia

Shinichi Sahara Interview: Part 2 - How Suzuki's 2011 Withdrawal Differed From 2022, And Going Out On A High

Suzuki's MotoGP activities finally came to an end with the Valencia GP, the final round of the 2022 season. Since the bombshell news of Suzuki Motor Corporation's decision to withdraw at the end of the season hit the world this May, every venue and every racetrack has become a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all the team members of Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. On Thursday afternoon, before Team SUZUKI ECSTAR's final race at the Circuit de Valencia Ricardo Tormo, we spoke with Shinichi Sahara, the project leader who has been leading the team for twenty years.

In the second part of this two-part interview, Sahara-san discusses how Suzuki's decision to withdraw at the end of 2022 compares with 2011, when Suzuki paused participation in the premier class. He talks about what will happen to the team at the end of the season, the chances of a return, and the joy of Alex Rins' victories at Phillip Island and Valencia.

Q: Your withdrawal is inevitably compared to that of 2011, but in 2011, it was an announcement of “suspension of activities".

Shinichi Sahara: In that sense, it is different from this time. Although it was a suspension, returning to the racing was very tough. And after returning, it needs a lot of effort to become competitive and fight at the top level. Therefore, even at that time, we did everything to persuade them not to suspend racing activities. In that sense, this is the second time we have worked like this. Although there are some similarities, suspension and withdrawal are different things. Anyway, I think once is enough for this experience!

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2022 Phillip Island World Superbike Race Two Result: Racing The Rain

Australia wanted more excitement for the last race of the year so it brought rain in for race two, but it stopped raining as the riders headed to the grid and was dry again by the time the race started. Everyone lined up for twenty two laps on slick tyres. 

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2022 Phillip Island World Supersport Race Two Result: Finally, A Dry Race

The last World Supersport race of the year was eighteen laps off Phillip Island and the grid lined up for a dry race. Niki Tuuli was ruled unfit after stomach pains. Leonardo Taccini would start from the back of the grid due to a tyre pressure infringement. 

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2022 Phillip Island World Superbike Superpole Race Result: Rain Delay Forces Hard Choices

World Superbike's last ten lap Superpole race of the year had a delayed pitman opening due to a downpour that appeared just as riders were about to get out to the grid. Puddles on the grid meant tyre choice would be important and the race was declared wet with the wind and sun adding to the unpredictability of the conditions. 

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2022 Phillip Island World Superbike Race One Result: Flag To Flag, Drying Track, Tyre Changes, Oh My

Rain stopped but everyone bar one was on wet tyres. Philipp Oettl was the lone rider on an intermediate rear. Ducati needs fourteen points over Yamaha to claim the manufacturer title.

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