Official At Last: Suzuki Out Of MotoGP, But Only "Temporarily"

Suzuki has at last confirmed what we have all suspected since the middle of this year, and what veteran journalist Michael Scott reported in GPWeek: The Japanese factory is to pull out of the MotoGP series from 2012. The press release expresses their intention to keep working on their 1000cc MotoGP machine, with a view to returning to the series in 2014. 

Though the optimism expressed is laudable, making a return to the series after pulling out is hard enough under normal circumstances, but given the combination of the global financial crisis, the earthquake and tsunami back in March, and the continuing corporate difficulties over the 19.9% stake in the company sold to Volkswagen, coming back to MotoGP could pose serious difficulties. Added to this are the rule changes currently proposed and expected. The move to 1000cc in 2012 has long been known, but Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta's announcement that he wants everyone racing under a single set of rules, including a rev limit and a spec ECU, means that waiting could be the smart thing to do. Once the rules have been settled, then it could be time to start work on a bike for racing in MotoGP.

There has been some speculation that Suzuki could also enter via the CRT route, but when asked by, Rizla Suzuki boss Paul Denning said that the prospect of racing as a CRT held no interest for the Japanese factories. The point of Grand Prix racing was to be able to develop technologies, and merely developing their roadgoing GSX-R engine in MotoGP was not sufficient motivation. However, given that the 1000cc engine Suzuki is working on for MotoGP in 2014 is an inline four rather than a V4, some trickle down of technology would be possible.

Suzuki's official withdrawal from the series greatly strengthens Ezpeleta's hand in his negotiations with the MSMA. Ezpeleta has been holding off on renewing the contract between Dorna and the MSMA giving the manufacturers control of the technical regulations of MotoGP, and Suzuki's withdrawal cuts the number of MSMA members to just three, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. After the departure of Kawasaki mid-contract, and now with Suzuki leaving at the end of the current contract, both citing the incredible cost of racing in the series, Ezpeleta is in no mood to listen to the factories any longer. Suzuki's withdrawal is the nail in the coffin of the old way of working in MotoGP, and a new era, where the teams and the organizers dominate, rather than the factories, is at hand.

The official press release from Suzuki appears below:


Team Suzuki Press Office - November 18.

November 18, 2011 17:00 JPN Time ( GMT +9 )

Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend temporarily its participation in FIM Road Racing Grand Prix MotoGP from 2012.

This suspension is to cope with tough circumstances mainly caused by the prolonged recession in developed countries, a historical appreciation of Japanese Yen and repeated natural disasters.

Having an eye to returning to MotoGP in 2014, Suzuki will now focus on developing a competitive new racing machine for that class.

Suzuki will continue motocross racing activity and support of road racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles, by obtaining FIM homologation and co-operation with the supplier of its development racing kit parts.

November 18, 2011

Suzuki Motor Corporation

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If Suzuki are worried about the cost of 1000cc competition, why don't they dust off the 990cc engine? Dorna will probably push to eliminate the 81mm bore limit and 21L fuel limit. Suzuki could make a 1000cc engine by stroking the 990 V4 by .5mm. I know the balancing act would be complicated, but it seems more affordable than developing an entirely new engine from scratch.

Suzuki's willingness to spend money on a new design is both reassuring and troubling. The inline configuration will probably be best in 24L competition b/c wheelie suppression is critical, so Suzuki appear to be ready for a fight. However, if the new bike isn't competitive, it will reinforce the factories opinion that they shouldn't ever trouble themselves with grand prix racing.

They perfected the 990cc 26L-24L era by putting an Inline-4 directly behind the front wheel, and softening the rear shock so the bike could transfer weight under acceleration.

I won't pretend to know the nuances of the physics, but the basic principle seems pretty straight forward--the greater the forward weight bias, the less the propensity to wheelie. When fuel capacity changed in 2006, the engineering paradigms changed as well. If 3L of fuel is added, I tend to think we will return to the 990cc engineering. Depends on the tires, though.

I thought this was one of the biggest complaints of Lorenzo and Spies this year - keeping the front wheel down. What's 24-26 litres got to do with the price of fish? It's still going to be near enough to zero litres at race end.

In 2008 Rossi/Burgess moved the weight bias of the M1 rearward to make it compatible with the Bridgestone tires. Cornerspeed is everything in fuel limited competition so they couldn't afford to give any cornerspeed away. When the engines are powerful and fuel is plentiful, point and shoot is the style of choice.

The engineering paradigms for point-and-shoot and cornerspeed are different. As different as Stoner RC212V and Rossi's 990cc M1. If MotoGP returns to 24L and the Bridgestones are suitable, the engineering will return to 990s, imo.

Nakamoto san (from MM interview):

"Q: Is it important to Honda to have the fuel capacity limits, to have the 21 liters.

Yes, because for even 20 liter, we are against, because if we go to 20 liters, engineer has to try something different. If engineer try different, he can find another new technology. Anyway, good fuel consumption is better for worldwide, not only the racing engine."

Adding 3L will have a similar effect. The engineering paradigms will change.

At present, the bikes are limited in acceleration by the position of the CoG, not the lack of power. Point & shoot is better if you can accelerate much harder upright than on the angle, due to lack of grip. High corner speed wins if you can accelerate almost as hard while leaning.

In fact, a MGP can now accelerate somewhat harder when leaning than upright, because the big rear tyres mean the bike is sitting considerablely lower on the edge of the tyre than on the centre... and there is enough grip to do it and the TC makes it safer. Adding power won't change that, only reducing grip or chassis strength would.

Aprilia tried another approach with the Cube: mount the c/s sprocket high, so the bike squats more at the back under power, hence lowers the CoG and enabled it to accelerate harder in a straight line. Unfortunately, adding squat at the back also makes a bike more inclined to highside, as it takes a little while for the tyre to load up and provide extra traction while the bike is pivoting rearward. So it spins, then grips. Turned out not to be a good solution...

Why is the CoG where it is? b/c there isn't enough fuel to accelerate. Since the riders can accelerate, they can't brake, thus, corner entry and cornerspeed are everything. The CoG is changed.

Since cornerspeed was everything and the CoG was relocated, the tire companies changed the tires in 2006. The regulation changes played into Bridgestone's hands. Rossi cried foul, Michelin waved the white flag, a control tire was introduced, manufacturers bailed, Bob's-your-uncle, it's 2012 already.

That chain of events was started by fuel-limiting the performance of the bikes.

I believe Yamaha sorted the problems Aprilia were experiencing by bolting the swingarm directly to the engine.

The CoG is where it is because that is what is required to make the tyres work, in the absence of F1-style aerodynamic assistance.

Yamaha have not, do not, never have bolted the swingarm to the engine on any of their road-race bikes.

Why are the tires designed the way they are? B/c there isn't enough fuel to run wide open. People save fuel by using less brakes and carrying more cornerspeed. The tires had to be redesigned to accommodate.

Started in 2006 when the M1 began chattering all over the track and chunking tires. It was even more evident in 2007 when Bridgestone showed up with a new tire for Casey Stoner.

My mistake, Yamaha started bolting the rear suspension to the engine. Don't know if they still do it or not.

Softening the shock reduces load transfer, and reduces wheelies. If you want more load on the rear under acceleration, you move the CoG higher (which is why they fitted extended caps on the forks). But it will increase wheelies. The only way you can have the cake while eating it is to get the rider to move as required.

BTW, it wasn't Rossi or Burgess who decided to use an IL-4... let's not provoke another wave of pro-anti Rossi hysteria

Ahh... that makes sense (more compact and forward).

So your basic argument for the fuel is that:
more fuel => more power => less need for corner speed => move engine forward => less wheelie ?

That's interesting.

I still don't understand how softening a shock would increase or decrease weight transfer. In a car it seems intuitive that for a road race you want the stiffest suspension possible to reduce sway in corners, and also keep a more even distribution of weight on all four wheels when either accelerating or braking.

But for a bike, what's different is with a swing arm, working the rear suspension under acceleration with a soft shock would actually lengthen the wheel base temporarily ( as the bike squats down ), so soft shock would help combat wheelies?

Not sure if that's true, but I had read in a MotoGP tech book once about how some bikes setups over the years tended to lengthen their wheelbase under acceleration, while others, for whatever reason, tended to shorten the wheel base while driving hard, all through how the chassis/swingarm/suspension where designed and configured.

Another factor mentioned in the book was forward crank vs. reverse crank direction for wheelie control. Pretty interesting stuff.

I was under the impression that the softer rear shock transferred weight to the rear to increase grip and drive out of corners as the bike was stood up. The compact inline 4 was mounted directly behind the rear wheel which presumably helped keep the front down.

I know there are much more complicated forces at play from other components, but I think the soft shock and forward engine bias might be as simple as it looks.

tho its somehow related to swingarm pivot height/angle relative to the countersprocket, im pretty sure under acceleration the rear suspension does not squat but rises due to the chain pull.

Soft shock lets the attitude of the bike change more, ie it drops more at the back. But that does not mean there is more load on the rear tyre.. it just looks like it.

For any given acceleration, the higher the CoG is, the greater the load transfer (front or rear), up to the point where the other end lifts off the ground. Which is why the soft spring makes things worse, it lowers the CoG. It's also why having the forks dive helps braking (as long as it doesn't happen too fast).

So if the tyres aren't gripping, you lift the bike (or shorten it). If it's wheelying or lifting the rear too easily, you drop it (or make it longer).

The anti-squat provided by a steep swingarm angle is a separate but related issue.

"tho its somehow related to swingarm pivot height/angle relative to the countersprocket, im pretty sure under acceleration the rear suspension does not squat but rises due to the chain pull."

Yes that's exactly what the GP book was talking about (It was either MotoGP Technology by Neil Spalding or The Grand Prix Motorcycle by Kevin Cameron), though it spoke about different bikes either squat or rose up based on their particular design/configuration.

Both are good reads.