Suzuki has made a surprising decision to leave MotoGP at the end of the current 2022 season, according to an article on the-race.com. The expected move will leave 2020 champion Joan Mir without a ride, as well as his teammate Alex Rins. Mir and Rins are two of the best 10 riders in the race-to-race field.
This company's departure will have a major impact upon the series, leaving the sport with one less major manufacturer in 2023.
However, this move is not unprecedented. Suzuki left MotoGP following the 2011 season due to financial reasons caused by the global financial crisis, according to the-race.com.
Suzuki is known to have one of the smallest budgets of any manufacturer in MotoGP. As for possible reasons for its departure from MotoGP, the Japanese manufacturer likely could’ve been hit hard by COVID-19 and therefore has been forced to shut down its MotoGP operations.
Suzuki’s departure leaves the 2023 MotoGP grid on shakier ground than it was before. Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez is signed to Repsol Honda until at least 2024. Brad Binder is signed with KTM and Francesco Bagnaia has signed with Ducati until 2024 as well. Franco Morbidelli has signed with Yamaha until 2023, according to motogp.com.
Othan than those four riders, no one has a contract signed beyond 2022. Let’s look at the possible landing spots for Rins and Mir:
If there are odds on where Mir ends up, Repsol Honda should be the favorite. There have been rumors of this move, with motorsport.com writing that Mir should join Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda.
This move makes sense for both parties. Repsol Honda has struggled to find a great rider to pair alongside Marquez in recent seasons. Dani Pedrosa was the last Repsol rider other than Marquez to finish in the top five of a championship. That was in 2017.
Mir has shown over the past few seasons he can win races and he has 13 podium finishes in MotoGP. He consistently finishes in the top five and will push Marquez. Perhaps Mir can surpass the current version of Marquez and contend for the title on the Honda. Regardless, he is a much better option than Pol Espargaro.
Monster Energy Yamaha
Yamaha is an option for Rins. First, it isn’t a done deal that 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo will return to Yamaha for next season. If he does, he and the team need a wingman because Morbidelli has not lived up to his potential. Morbidelli finished second in the championship in 2020 on the Petronas Yamaha bike. He then moved up to the factory team after Maverick Viñales left for Aprilia. Morbidelli is currently in 16th place in the championship. His teammate is leading it.
Rins had his issues with crashes last year but is in fourth place in this year’s championship with two podiums so far. Rins could help Yamaha battle for the team championship and could push Quartararo if he stays.
The one issue for this potential move is Morbidelli is under contract until 2023. Unless Morbidelli gets back on track and into the top 10 consistently, Yamaha will have no problem buying Morbidelli out for Rins.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
This situation is different for Rins. If he were to go to KTM, he would be the No. 1 rider. Binder is loved by the media and the commentators, but his resume isn’t special. He has one dry-weather win and one fluky wet-weather win.
Rins could step in next and lead the team towards more podiums and wins. Miguel Olivera’s contract with KTM is up after this year. Olivera has shown he can win but is wildly inconsistent. If Rins can finish in the top 5 of the championship this year KTM will be interested.