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MXA has confirmed with Britain’s Motoheadmag.com that Suzuki will most likely pull the plug on its official 450 GP team as well as its 250 GP team for 2018. Although there has not been an official Suzuzki announcement yet, several sources have revealed that Suzuki’s 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 Stefan 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 Everts would need to find major outside backers to fund it. Even with a legend like Stefan Everts at the helm 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. If Everts can find a big sponsor, he will be able to continue to race, with bike and parts support from the Suzuki factory, but it takes a lot of money to fly to far-away places, pay salaries and build for the future.
It’s possible that the national Suzuki distributors would be willing to 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 asked to race the German national series as well as GPs, for example. And there is always the possibility of a “Hail Mary,” since it is still September, Suzuki’s top brass could reverse this rumored decision. Although they would have to hurry to keep the team intact before they have another plan.
The news comes as Kawasaki revealed it is pulling the plug on its factory-backed 250 GP team, and Honda is set to scale back its 250 squad to just one rider for next year.