Suzuki announces former Honda boss Suppo as new team manager

Suzuki’s Alex Rins. Picture:

Team Suzuki Ecstar has announced former Honda boss Livio Suppo as its new team manager, filling a long-lasting vacancy at the 2020 MotoGP championship-winning squad.

Suzuki has been competing without a dedicated team manager since Davide Brivio left for the Alpine Formula 1 outfit ahead of the 2021 campaign.

His duties were distributed among a seven-person ‘committee’ structure but project leader Shinichi Sahara seemingly bore the brunt of the extra workload, which he would admit was “way too much” for him.

Brivio had been with the Hamamatsu marque since 2013, laying the foundations for its return to MotoGP competition at the end of the following season.

As it turned out, his tenure would end with Joan Mir’s championship title, Suzuki’s first since its comeback, and the squad will now be headed up by another championship-winning leader, in spells at both Ducati and Honda.

Sahara said, “I’m very happy to announce the news of Livio Suppo as our new team manager before the new season starts.

“I’m confident that Livio is very well suited for the position, because he has a lot of experience and a big passion for winning.

“He understands how teams work and that team atmospheres are important when it comes to being competitive consistently during a season.

“Some of our crew members already have experience of working with him, and I’ve known him for a long time because he’s been in the paddock for many years.

“We’ve already seen promising signs and improvements in our performance during winter testing, and I believe Livio joining us will bolster our team further and we will become even stronger.”

Suppo was project manager at Ducati when Casey Stoner won the 2007 MotoGP world championship, then joined Honda Racing Corporation as marketing director in 2010.

He was promoted to team principal at Repsol Honda in 2013, and hence oversaw Marc Marquez’s first four crowns before he resigned at the end of 2017.

Then, Suppo had been said to have a desire to “pursue new challenges”, and would go on to set up an e-bike company, but has now been drawn back to the MotoGP arena.

Livio Suppo. Picture: Team Suzuki Ecstar

“I am very proud to become Suzuki Ecstar’s Team Manager and happy to re-join the MotoGP Championship after four years,” said the Italian.

“I’m also very honoured to be involved in this great project with Suzuki; for sure it will be a challenging task to be part of a historic manufacturer in MotoGP, who recently achieved the crown in 2020 in the year of their 100th anniversary.

“I also feel it will be a great experience to start working with two talented riders like Joan Mir and Alex Rins, both capable of fighting for the top in MotoGP.

“Sahara-san’s proposal came at the perfect time for me; I had been busy setting up my e-bike company but I was certainly missing the paddock and ready to come back.

“Racing has been my life for almost all my career and I will do my best to bring my experience to Team Suzuki Ecstar.

“I know they are a great team, but also a great group of humans, so this could help a lot to achieve our goals sooner.

“MotoGP nowadays is more and more exciting, with many very fast riders and competitive motorcycles from all manufacturers.

“It’s a difficult challenge for everybody involved, where all the small details can make the difference, I am ready to be part of the game again and give my all to be on top with Suzuki.”

Suzuki struggled in 2021, with its GSX-RR becoming uncompetitive due to lack of development.

Mir finished third in the championship at 70 points behind title winner Fabio Quartararo, with no victories and only six podiums to his name, while Rins ended up 13th in an injury-disrupted campaign.

The squad’s own press release announcing the recruitment of Suppo states, “For Team Suzuki Ecstar, Suppo’s arrival gives a further boost of confidence ahead of a season where an increase in performance compared with last year is necessary.”

Round 1 of the 2022 season is the Qatar Grand Prix, on March 4-6.

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