Team Suzuki MotoGP


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Suzuki MotoGP is the official factory-backed team of Suzuki in the MotoGP World Championship. The team were competing under the name Rizla Suzuki MotoGP. Suzuki withdrew from competition at the end of the 2011 MotoGP season. However, in June 2013, Suzuki announced they will end their hiatus and return to MotoGP with a factory team in 2015.

Suzuki first entered a works team in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship in 1974 with riders Barry Sheene and Jack Findlay riding the Suzuki RG500. A second-place finish by Sheene in the opening round was the best result of the season. The team's first victory came in 1975, a pole-to-finish win by Barry Sheene at the Dutch TT. Sheene finished the season 6th overall with two wins.

Barry Sheene won the rider's championship in 1976 with a total of five wins. Sheene's second 500cc rider's championship came in 1977 with six wins. Team mate Steve Parrish was fifth.

In 1978 with two wins on the new Suzuki RGA, Sheene finished second in the championship behind Yamaha rider Kenny Roberts. Team mate Wil Hartog was fourth overall, also won two races. The 1979 championship was again won by Roberts with Virginio Ferrari finishing second, Barry Sheene third and Wil Hartog fourth, all riding the new Suzuki RGB.

Randy Mamola joined Suzuki in 1980. While Yamaha rider Roberts won his third title, Suzuki riders Mamola was second, and Marco Lucchinelli third. Lucchinelli became the 500cc World Champion in 1981 riding the new Suzuki RG 500 gamma for the Roberto Gallina racing team.

Lucchinelli left Suzuki to join Honda in 1982. He was replaced on the Gallina team by Franco Uncini who went on to win the World Championship with five wins. Uncini was severely injured at the Assen TT in 1983 and was unable to defend his title. Suzuki withdrew factory support at the end of the season.

After three years away Suzuki returned in 1987 with factory supported entries. While not a full-time return, riders Takumi Itoh and Kevin Schwantz had some good results aboard the new Suzuki RGV500. Suzuki made a full return to racing in 1988 with Schwantz finishing 8th overall with two wins whilst teammate Rob McElnea finished the season in 10th place.

With a total of six wins, Schwantz was ranked fourth for the 1989 season. In 1990 he was second overall with five wins while teammate Niall Mackenzie was 4th. Another five wins ranked Schwantz third overall in 1991. Doug Chandler became Schwantz's teammate for 1992 during which Schwantz enjoyed one win to finish the season fourth followed by Chandler's fifth place overall.

Schwantz won his long-awaited first World Championship in 1993 with four race wins. His new team-mate Alex Barros also scored a win and finished 6th overall.

In 1994, Schwantz was 4th overall with two wins whilst Barros was 8th. Early in the 1995 season, Schwantz decided to retire from motorcycle competition. The other Suzuki rider Daryl Beattie finished the season second with two race wins.

Scott Russell joined Beattie in 1996. Russell finished the season 6th while Beattie suffered serious injuries pre-season and did not have his previous form. He finished 18th. Beattie was joined by Anthony Gobert in 1997. Beattie finished the season 11th and Gobert 15th. A fifth-place finish by Beattie was the team's best result that season.

Suzuki entered an all Japanese riders lineup in 1998 with Nobuatsu Aoki and Katsuaki Fujiwara. Fujiwara however was injured during pre-season tests and Aoki contested the world championship alone. He finished 9th for the season with a best result of 4th place.

New rider Kenny Roberts, Jr. joined Aoki in 1999. Roberts Jr. took Suzuki's first win in the four years since 1995. His four wins gave him second place in the championship. Aoki was 13th. Roberts became World Champion in 2000 with a total of four victories, Aoki was 10th overall.

In 2001 Sete Gibernau joined Roberts riding the Suzuki RGV500. Gibernau finished ninth overall and Roberts 11th.

In 2002, the debut year of the new MotoGP class, Roberts and Gibernau rode the new Suzuki GSV-R four-stroke motorcycle. The team's best result was a 3rd-place podium finish by Roberts at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Overall, Roberts finished 9th and Gibernau 16th.

John Hopkins joined Roberts in 2003. Hopkins came seventh at the Spanish Grand Prix. However, Roberts missed three races due to a crash in the Italian Grand Prix and finished the season 19th two places behind Hopkins in 17th place. The rider line-up remained the same for 2004 while Bridgestone replaced Michelin as the team's tyre supplier. Hopkins finished the season 16th with Roberts Jr. again two places behind in 18th.

Once again the rider line-up remained the same for 2005, while Englishman Paul Denning became the new team manager taking over the position of Gary Taylor. Roberts took a second place podium-finish in the wet British Grand Prix but finished the season 13th. Hopkins finished 14th for the season.

Chris Vermeulen joined Hopkins in 2006. Hopkins finished the season 10th while Vermeulen finished 11th with a 2nd place podium-finish at the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.

Both riders stayed with the team in 2007 and raced the new 800cc Suzuki GSV-R. Vermeulen took Suzuki's first win since the advent of four-stroke regulations and finished the season 6th overall. Hopkins finished 4th with four podium finishes.

For 2008, Chris Vermeulen was joined by Loris Capirossi as the rider lineup and the same lineup remained in 2009. For the 2010 season Álvaro Bautista joined the team.

For the 2011 season, the team fielded only one GSV-R for Bautista with no replacement for Loris Capirossi, who moved to the Pramac Racing team. At the end of 2011 Suzuki pulled out of MotoGP citing the need to reduce costs amid the global economic downturn.

On 30 September 2014 Suzuki Motor Corporation announced that it will participate in MotoGP from 2015, with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales as their two riders. They will race a newly developed MotoGP machine, the GSX-RR, with a restructured team organization now led by Davide Brivio.

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