Suzuki will pull the plug on its official MXGP team as well as its MX2 team for 2018. Although there has not been an official announcement yet, several sources have revealed that Suzuki GP team boss told his employees of the news on Thursday.
The Belgian-based Suzuki team, run by Sylvain Geboers for more than 20 years before being taken over by Everts two years ago, has always had direct support from the Suzuki factory who used the GPs as a testing ground for new technology following the USA’s adherence to production-based bikes. The new 2018 RMZ450 was tested for a full season in the GPs in 2017, as it couldn’t legally be raced in the US.
It seems Suzuki would still be keen to support the team with bikes and spares, but it would need to find major outside backers to fund it. Even with a legend like Stefan Everts at the helm, for the past two years, the Suzuki factory team has survived without title sponsorship. Rockstar Energy pulled out at the end of 2015, but their funding was known to be nowhere near that of Red Bull or Monster Energy that rival teams had.
It’s possible national Suzuki distributors would support a private team, especially if there is a link with a rider that is important to their market. For example, Suzuki Germany was a very important partner to the Geboers set-up in the past. With Everts already signing up Arminas Jasikonis and Jeremy Seewer for the 2018 GP season, the pair could be made to race the German national series as well as GPs, for example.
The news comes as Kawasaki revealed it is pulling the plug on its factory-backed MX2 team, and Honda is set to scale back its 250 squad to just one rider.