Randy de Puniet Testing Suzuki MotoGP Bike In Japan This Week

Suzuki's return to MotoGP takes another step closer to being realized this week. Frenchman Randy de Puniet is flying to Japan today to test Suzuki's inline four MotoGP machine at Motegi, as part of the testing program to develop the bike ready for its return in 2014. 

In an interview with the official MotoGP.com website, De Puniet said he would be departing on Monday. "We leave tomorrow to go to Japan to test at Motegi with Suzuki," he told MotoGP.com. "It will be a good experience for me, and I hope to do a great job." After testing at Motegi, De Puniet will fly back to Europe to take part in the next round of MotoGP with the Power Electronics Aspar team at Mugello, where he will ride the team's Aprilia ART machine.

Though De Puniet has been engaged to test Suzuki's new MotoGP machine, it is still unclear whether he is in the frame for a permanent ride on the bike when the factory returns full time in 2014. De Puniet seemed like an obvious choice when the Aspar team were favorite to run the Suzuki factory entry, but now that Davide Brivio has been given the task of organizing Suzuki's entry, De Puniet is no longer the favorite for the seat. According to GPOne.com, Brivio has relinquished his duties with Valentino Rossi's VR46 merchandising operation to focus full time on the Suzuki team. 

The name most frequently being linked with the ride at Suzuki is that of Cal Crutchlow. The Englishman has been extremely impressive so far this season, and scoring a podium at Le Mans merely strengthened his claim to a factory seat. Crutchlow has made no secret of his desire to race in a factory team, and with the Honda and Yamaha seats already tied up, that leaves only Nicky Hayden's seat at Ducati (the American is on a one-year deal with the Bologna factory) and the two new seats at Suzuki. Signing for Suzuki would be a huge risk, given that nobody is certain how competitive the bike is. That will only become clear once the bike makes its public debut at the Barcelona test in June.

So far, Crutchlow has been non-committal on speculation he may sign for Suzuki, joking he may switch sports and go cycling instead. That is a realistic option: Crutchlow lives on the Isle of Man and is a regular training partner of Mark Cavendish, the 2012 cycling World Champion and winner of multipe Tour de France stages. He is regarded as being talented enough to make the change, should he decide to consider it seriously.

If Crutchlow does take one Suzuki seat, the question will be who would take the other. Where Crutchlow would take the role as lead rider in the team, Suzuki may want to look at a younger rider for the future of the brand. GPOne.com speculates that with Brivio in charge, he may prefer to recruit a young Italian. The only young Italians with MotoGP experience are Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci, while there are no up-and-coming Italians in Moto2 at the moment. The next young rider on his way up would be Romano Fenati, but Fenati is in just his second season of Moto3, and the step from Moto3 to MotoGP is too large to contemplate at the moment.

For details on Suzuki's MotoGP machine, see Kevin Cameron's analysis on the Cycle World Magazine website.

Back to top


Cal would be the number 1 choice for the Suzuki.

If the they can build the bike around him (Like Taylor did for KS "back in the day") then Cal should have a good run towards the end of 2014 & a great season in 2015.

Best of luck to both him & RdP.

Aleix, that is. What about him? Is he on a two year deal?

I also think that EsP deserves a shot at the Suzuki factory ride, better results than RdP.

Who knows, maybe Hayden gets the boot from Ducati and we'll see Dovi and Cal reunite and then Hayden switches over to Suzuki... ..

Interesting to see how that Suzuki perfoms in June...

If Spies can return to health and from, given the history the two have with Yamaha WSBK, I'd give Ben a real solid shot to "return home" to Suzuki.

Wonder what the chances are that Hopkins could come off the couch for a totter about on the thing? Suzuki will definitely be considering an American and Spies and Crutchlow already get on well. Seems to me the best scenario.

either staying with Tech 3 next year or moving to Pigati for Cal if he goes to Suzuki.
Cal is on a proven front runner with T3 (qualifying & hanging with the big guns in the races) and if all his stars line up for him he could very well win a race but if he thinks by going to Suzuki his front running will continue, he should re-think and quickly.
He will be on a hiding to nothing by taking a ride there, so what if its an all new bike that has been tested for a year! How long has the Pigati been in the series and only won one championship in the hands of Stoner but won nothing since, not even in Rossi's golden hands, only 3 podiums in 2 years so him going there (Suzuki) may very well be a career breaker. It took Honda the whole of the 800 era to win a championship and that was because of casey so 1 or 2 years of testing is not going to set the world on fire IMHO.
I would like to be proven wrong but the Suzuki is not going to be on any sort of pace if/when it returns next year (mid CRT at best) and another factor in Cal's story is he wants to win races! Does anyone think he will win a race or even sniff at the arse end of the CRT's on the Suzuki? I don't. That is definitely not a slight on Cal's capabilities, the bike will not be a winner straight out of the box, i just think he should stay where he is with T3 and possibly jump to Vale's bike (if VR's results continue to be mediocre) or just stay with T3 until a proven factory ride becomes available, it wouldn't do his credibility any harm considering his performances last year and definitely this year thus far.
Randy on the Suzuki with Aleix Espargaro as his team mate would be a better option IMO

It is worth repeating: the Suzuki MotoGP operation has been a graveyard for riders. Team managers may have done exceedingly well, but the riders have not. However, there is hope, as it seems this will not be an English team. In the period 1987 to 2011 (24 years) the English team notched two championships. The first was due to Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan being injured (no slight on Kevin Schwantz); the second was because Kenny Roberts Junior had Warren Willing as crew chief, and Willing was not one of these major egos who strut and preen and provide little in the way of results. Warren knows what he doesn't know and is prepared to consult with people with expertise in areas he does not. Thus he nailed the chassis set up of the Suzuki 500 in 2000, and Kenny won the championship, despite the Suzuki giving away a lot of acceleration out of corners to the Honda. With decent front-end geometry, Kenny as able to push deep into corners to help off-set the Honda's superior acceleration. Oh, and Mick Doohan ironed himself out again, this time for good. Suzuki does not take racing anywhere as seriously as Honda or Yamaha (or Ducati for that matter). Never has. Back in its early GP years (1960s), Suzuki would pull race engineers out of its (tiny) race shop to re-deploy them elsewhere. While that led to bikes like the six-speed, 250cc T20 in 1966, it was not good for winning races. So, a Suzuki ride may be good for Randy de Puniet; it would very likely be a disaster for Cal Crutchlow.

They went well in 2007.

John Hopkins, 4th overall in final standings with four podiums.

Chris Vermuelen, 6th overall in final standings with four podiums including a win.

Otherwise I broadly agree with your sentiments. I do hope they can be reasonably competitive when they return, regardless of who they employ to ride their bikes (Ant West?).

You were cognizant enough to know that what you were about to write of Kevin Schwantz was indeed such an insult that you couched it essentially with "no offense but." Let's be clear here, Kevin Schwantz won his World Championship because he was an amazing rider. First rider with his number retired, 25 victories in the premier class and finishing 2nd twice and 3rd once in the Championship, he entered that race 11 points down on Wayne Rainey before that terrible accident, so it's not like he was a grid filler or backmarker that went on to win the title after the entire field fell off of the track at the same time race after race. Sport, unfortunately, sees people capitalizing on other's misfortune all of the time. Wayne Rainey was/is an American racing legend and has himself said that Kevin should never question his accomplishment.

Regarding Suzuki's commitment to racing and level of seriousness, let's please consider the impact that the world recession took on them. I seem to remember reading that only now is their US arm coming out of bankruptcy and look nothing like themselves prior to having to reorganize. What was within their best interest at the time, finishing the season or cauterizing their bleeding financial wound in order to live another day?

Lastly, I do also seem to remember a crazy American dressed in Rizla blue that stood on the podium a few times (4) during his last year with the squad and another Australian that got a victory on it in addition to his 7 podiums on the team.

in the Pro Peloton? maybe if he loses 15 kilos. do you know the BMI of a pro cyclist? it's around 6%. most 28 year olds are in the 16% range.

I'd be surprised if the Suzuki got tin the top 5 more than 2 times next season. It might make sense for a young rider trying to make a name for himself, or a older vet trying to stay in Moto GP and develop a new bike, but for someone who is older and needs to win now, it makes no sense.

Having seen Crutchlow in his shorts, I can assure you that his body fat percentage is closer to 8% than 15%. His weight is listed as 66kg, and if he went cycling full time, he would soon drop that to 63kg or so. Crutchlow is a sprinter, not a climber, and people who know him say he can match Cavendish for speed. In his sprints, he has clocked up 1.5 kW, which is a little below what Cavendish is reported to generate (1.6 kW). I have no doubt that if Crutchlow decided to go cycling, he would a) get a ride, and b) be competitive. Not to win the Tour de France, but to win one-day events and sprint stages in longer tours.

Hard to imagine anyone who's not a pro cyclist can match Cavendish for speed, given that that most of the world's best sprinters can't. If he can he's in a class of one and he should switch tomorrow. It takes more than just kW to win a sprint in a pro tour event.
That said, I'd love to see it.

Given that the factories are allowed to provide two satellite bike each season could there potentially be two factory Suzukis PLUS a couple of satellites too?

But what do I know eh? If Suzuki come in with Aspar (as the are rumoured to) then wouldn't that make them... Err... Satellite bikes in their own right? Hmmm...

So currently MotoGP 2014 looks like 2 Hondas, 2 satellite Hondas, 4 leased Honda RC213Vs. 2 Yamahas, 2 satellite Yamahas, 4 Yamaha engined bikes, 2 Ducatis, 2 satellite Ducatis, 2 Suzukis. I don't know whether to be excited or not by this. A slightly smaller but perhaps more competitive grid? Maybe this can be improved upon if Ducati can come up with their own lease package (we'll wait to see how competitive they are by the end of this season before arguing over who would want it) and Suzuki satellites.

People are quick to forget! Last time Suzuki were in GP, they had a mid-pack runner on-board in Bautista. (He was a fine 250cc rider but like Barbera & Aoyama, hes never really made much in-roads on the big bikes.) He was still getting promising enough results and getting into good positions, usually before crashing out.

Before that, near the end of the 990cc era, Hopkins & Vermuelen were doing a steller job on the GSRV, taking several podiums and ending up in 4th/5th (I think). Both of those guys moved on/were kicked out. And since then the team reduced their operation to a single bike, and ran Capirex & then Bautista, neither of whom are/were competitive.

So, with a good amount of testing and a genuine top rider onboard, they may get decent results next year. Not saying they'll be challenging for the title in their 1st year back, but regarding podiums, nothing is impossible. The right rider can make all the difference. We've all seen a very dramatic example of that over at Ducati in recent years. Not saying Cal is as fast as Stoner was, but its possible.

What is impossible: To win a WC on a satellite bike in the premier class. That is impossible. Without going to Wiki, I cant name the last non-factory rider to win the WC? Yamaha aren't going to fire Rossi, no matter how much he under performs. The other 3 competitive factory bikes are being ridden by the 3 aliens so the only other options for Cal are Ducati or Suzuki. Personally, I'd go with Suzuki :)

a WC on a satellite bike would be Eddie Lawson. he was riding a Rothmans Kanemoto Honda. the official Rothmans Honda team had Gardner and Doohan as the 2 factory riders- or was it 2001 when Rossi on the Nastro Azzuro Honda won the title when the Repsol Honda team had Criville and Barros as the official works riders?

david- i can't really comment on whether or not Crutchlow can ride in the pro peloton, but having a 1500 watt sprint (which by all accounts is quite low for a world class sprinter) is one thing, but being able to use that sprint after riding 180 kilometers at speed is quite another. in the amateur ranks, there are plenty of guys with a big wattage sprint (1600-1800 watts), but none of them can even come close to even being in the same league as even a 2nd tier sprinter like Tyler Farrar - much less a WC like Cavendish.

btw - they say that Cav's aero position is as important to his success as his wattage, which is a good 200-300 watts short of some of the other sprinters.

Ha...it's always entertaining when I see Tyler's name mentioned (I went to high school with him).

I agree completely though with everything you just said. Cal is a tremendous athlete, but much like a GP rider is to a front-running club racer (or even AMA), so too is a top cyclist to someone else that is "fast" on a bicycle. There's much more to the package than having wattage at a professional level.

It's a hard joice if it's about who to follow. Suzuki is theoretically closer to build proper bike as inline four engine + frame and suspension experience is what they know for years. No more exotic V4 which is Ducati's advantage but Ducati has so much technical ideas which still work against them in racing and with Audi they have so long way to sort it out. Maybe couple of years which for some people is too long to 'wait and see'.
For sure Crutchlow, Espargaro, De Puniet and maybe Spies are closer than others to take the seats.

that Honda always entered that as a full factory team.
Being a Factory team is about the level of support and resources given, not some legal term where you have to be in the 'official' team. Rossi had full factory support from day one, he actually received test parts before the Repsol team (amusingly most of these were electronic aids, he was one of the pioneers of these which Mick Doohan had rejected).

because he can't afford the pay cut.

While he may/not be into 7 figures, as a neo-pro cyclist with no previous experience just on the basis of his power meter readings & Cavendish's recommendation he'd be fortunate to make €50k.

As stated sprinting is not only about watts/kg. or max output it is much more mental & placing yourself into the right place in the last 200 meters which takes years of experience in the heat of battle.

Bottom line..never gunna happen.

In the hands of Bautista, but, then the money ran out. Sure it wasn't setting the world alight, but it WAS getting back on track (if you'll forgive the pun).

I've always been under the impression that Suzuki would need to run under the guise of a team already on the grid. And I've always heard Aspars name being mentioned in this breath. SURELY if Aspar runs the Suzuki team then Aleix will be a shoe in. For one, if he's not on a factory bike in the next 2 years after his performances on that CRT bike there's something VERY wrong. Another thing is the Dorna factor. Carmelo would turn inside out at the thought of yet another Spaniard on a factory bike with a Spanish team. And, if I'm honest RdP simply hasn't performed. Which is a shame, because he's a class act.

As for Mr. Crutchlow. Just to throw a bit more petrol on the fire, who says he doesn't jump ship to the LCR Honda unless Stefan sorts it out. With a view to the full Repsol squad after Dani goes....stranger things have happened..

Word was that Suzuki's AMA Superbike budget with Spies and Mladin was larger than their MotoGP budget. What they got in return was a slew of championships and dominant GSXR sales in the U.S.A. The AMA series is basically defunct (regardless of how much editor Ulrich and RoadRacingWorld attempt to prop it up) with the only real factory effort coming from Yamaha. Suzuki's successful chapter 13 filing and closure of their U.S. car division has freed up a lot of Yen. I think Suzuki's return to MotoGP will be shrouded in humble aspirations but fully expect them to be a major contender by the 2015 season.

Spies already has a good relationship with the factory, represents the key interests in the U.S. of A., should be physically fit and absolutely ravenous for a win. Crutchlow is proving every week that he is capable of buggering the front running factory racers while on inferior equipment. Seems like the perfect couple to me.

Hayden will go to WorldSuperBikes next year, replacing Carless Chucker on a factory Ducati effort. Ducati have to turn the 1199 into a winner or the Aprilias will keep flying off the shelves. Same with Suzuki. If their renewed effort in MotoGP is mediocre, so are the sales of GSXRs in what is the largest big bike market in the world.

If Suzuki wants their bike to finish races in 1 piece it should not hire Spies or RDP. Hire CE, he rarely crashes. They are not going to win anything anyway so a mid-level rider who break anything would be good.

Still have no idea why factories pi** money away in MotoGP, the series is awful. Only Honda and Yamaha can win, the rest of the bikes are filler, celery in salad of racing. Plus, it is 100% dominated by Spaniards and I think folks are tiring of this. Look at Ducati. What can they possibly have to gain by spending millions every year to fight for 8th? Drop out and throw some cash at WSBK, no one will know the difference and they will still every bike they make.......

So how exactly will MotoGP which has nothing to do with the street legal Superbike help sales? If this were the case Ducati would sell zero bikes a year and Honda would not be able to produce enough CBR1000s.

Suzuki sold a gazillion GSXRs based on AMA, not MotoGP. If the factory wants to spend money they should look at WSBK. Give poor Leon Camier a decent bike to race with. MotoGP is a money pit, I suspect DORNA may be helping them out.

And, despite Ducati not winning anything in MotoGP and less and less in WSBK they fly off the shelves, NOT Aprilias. Even though they dominate WSBK they have a hard time selling in the US.

It's ad but I think MotoGP is on it's death bed. Rule change after rule change have had the exact opposite effect of it's intention. Racing has become more expensive, the grid shrinks and shrinks (can't really count backmarker CRTs) and the racing gets worse and worse, 22 lap parades, well unless it rains. Why do you think Stoner left?

Suzuki should RUN not walk away from re-entering MotoGP

Forgive me in advance for sounding like a forum snob, but, after reading this..."And, despite Ducati not winning anything in MotoGP and less and less in WSBK they fly off the shelves, NOT Aprilias. Even though they dominate WSBK they have a hard time selling in the US." ... I am curious to know when you started watching World Championship level racing as both of your statements are wrong

To answer your question I have been watching racing for over 20 years. Yes, Ducati has dominated WSK with brief interruptions by other manufactures but look at the last 4 years, 1 championship. Last year it was a ½ point spread between Aprilia and Kawasaki. The last time a Ducati won any race in MotoGP was 2010 and they have been mid-pack at best since then.

Ducati sells a boatload of bikes in America and I am pretty sure it’s NOT because they haven’t won a race in 3 years. Aprilia has two championships in 3 years in SBK (not to mention lots of 125/250 Championships) and they can’t seem to gain a solid foothold in the US Market. You can still find brand new 2008/09 Tunonos on Ebay.

They reduce the price of the new V4 Tunono by 2k and 3K off the RSV4. I am pretty sure it wasn’t done because they discovered the bikes were that expensive to produce after all. It was done because sales are tepid.

Ducati is wasting their time and money in MotoGP. They sold boatloads before they entered MotoGP and still sell boatloads. Eventually Audi will figure this out and pull the plug…….

... are completely unrelated. As you point out, Aprilia can't sell their bikes for love nor money, not just in the US but throughout Europe. Even in Italy they barely sell the RSV4. Ducatis, meanwhile, fly out of dealers' doors, as do BMWs. The CBR1000RR is the biggest selling sports bike in Europe (I think the Suzuki may outsell it in the US, but I'm not sure), and the Honda struggles to get podiums in WSBK. When it does, that is more down to the brilliance of Jonathan Rea than the bike. Despite winning the 2009 WSBK championship, Yamaha's R1 is only a moderate seller.

Why do the factories compete in MotoGP? Simple. Because they want to sell scooters in Indonesia, Malaysia, India. They shift millions and millions of units in each of those markets, and a wealthy middle class is also growing rapidly there, who are buying higher end bikes. Ducati's sales in South East Asia are exploding, admittedly from small numbers, but people have money to buy high end bikes now, and a passion for motorcycles. If you want exposure in Indonesia, you need to be in MotoGP. WSBK simply does not receive the same coverage.

And it's not just in Indonesia that WSBK receives less coverage. TV audiences for WSBK in Italy and Spain are a fraction of what they are for MotoGP. Even in WSBK-mad Britain, viewing figures for MotoGP are much larger than for WSBK. If you want to give your brand global exposure, it's a no-brainer. Except in the US, oddly enough, where both MotoGP and WSBK have the same (small) audience.

Dave, true for scooters but I think Ducati's brand appeal transcends MotoGP and to an extent WSBK. Ducati is like Ferrari, even if they didn't win anything for 100 more years everyone who has the means will still want one.

The (still) tiny amount of folks in Indonesia who can afford Ducatis probably don't care at all about racing success. In the car world look at all the major brands NOT in F1. BMW, Bentley, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, etc.

I don't think folks who can afford most new Ferraris care one bit about what Ferrari did last Sunday in F1.....

So while racing may sell 50CC scooters for the Japanese brands in South West Asia, I don't think it matters to a brand like Ducati. (If it did they would be pumping out scooters as well) The appeal and desirability are already there.

I am wondering how tye development of electronics is going to go for the Suzuki, as it doesn't seem a strong point. Still feeling grumpy re engine alotment and fuel limit regs and it comes up again for me re bringing more factories in which seems yo me as good for all parties.
Spies Espargaro gets my hope, and I care more about the bike than the rider on it. PLEASE have a strong motor!
I am chomping the bit awaiting a Suter AND Kalex chassis around the Yamaha engine! And Aprillia's next stage of development. Fascinating!!!