2022 SUMMER ISSUE RACING MAGAZINE YOSHIMURA SERT MOTUL CONTINUING THE SUZUKI EWC SUCCESS STORY PLUS... TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR Q&A WITH ALEX RINS, JOAN MIR & TEAM MANAGERS BRITISH SUPERBIKES MOTOAMERICA AMA NHRA PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 2 2022 Summer Issue CONTENTS - SUMMER 2022 Contributors, and thanks to: Team Suzuki Ecstar, Federico Tondelli, Alberto Gomez, Georgia Wells, David Reygondeau/Good-Shoot, John Ulrich, Chris Ulrich/Team Hammer & Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar Suzuki, Chris Gantz. Design: Deborah Virgo, DSA Designs. PAGE 3: TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR MOTOGP Q&A with Alex Rins, Joan Mir, Livio Suppo, Shinichi Sahara and Ken Kawauchi PAGE 12: YOSHIMURA SERT MOTUL Leading the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship after three rounds, with a strong advantage PAGE 22: MOTOAMERICA AMA Team Hammer and Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teams PAGE 34: SUZUKI ON THE PACE AT NHRA Vance & Hines/Mission Foods/Suzuki Factory Pro Stock Motorcycle Team PAGE 29: BRITISH SUPERBIKES Buildbase Suzuki take on BSB and North West 200 PAGE 41: INTERNATIONAL NEWS MotoGP, Esports, All Japan Superbikes, 500th MotoGP podium
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 3 2022 Summer Issue The season to Silverstone Following on from a steady first half of the 2022 MotoGP season, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR returned refreshed and confident for the start of the second half of the race calendar. We caught up with the riders and team managers for a quick Q&A, before the action started at the British GP at Silverstone in August. MotoGP Mir focuses on the season ahead at Losail Circuit Rins leads at Silverstone
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 4 2022 Summer Issue ALEX RINS What are your aims and goals for the rest of the season? “Well, the goals and the aims for the last part of the season, for these nine races, are the same as the first part of the season. I mean, I’m fully focused on enjoying these races because it will be the last time to ride all these tracks with the Suzuki bike, I want to give my best.” How did you maintain your fitness and focus during the break? “I did more or less the same training as I always do during the season, but especially in the summer break I did a little more road cycling in the sunshine. Even when it’s 35 to 40 degrees Celsius, I still like to get out cycling because in the winter in Andorra you really can’t – it’s raining, cold, or snowing most of the time. So, basically, I did a lot of cycling, some gym work to maintain the “I’m fully focused on enjoying these races because it will be the last time to ride all these tracks with the Suzuki bike.” Alex Rins Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP MotoGP body’s form and stay in shape, and a little bit of riding on smaller motorbikes.” Which up-coming circuits are you most excited for? “Silverstone, of course, but in the next part of the season I enjoy pretty much all the tracks. I really like Aragon, Misano, Austria, and also the Asian tracks where we couldn’t go during the last few years. In fact, maybe I will enjoy the races outside of Europe even more due to the absence of them since the pandemic.” Was this long summer break made easier by sharing it with Lucas and your wife? “More or less, yes. We went to Ibiza for some days and we were with family and also some friends that we have there. It was a good time because we’ve been doing some new things with Lucas, like going to the beach, seeing some new places, and also a little bit of partying which is always nice.” Rins finished 7th at the opening round at Qatar The race in Indonesia was challenging with heavy rain and violent thunderstorms
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TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 6 2022 Summer Issue What would you keep from the first half of the year, and what would you change? “To keep it would be the speed that we had in the first races where we were going very fast. The things to forget would be the speed that we couldn’t get during the last races due to different situations like crashes, bad luck, and injuries.” JOAN MIR What are your goals and hopes for the rest of the season? “For me the main goal of the second part of the season is to enjoy it, because when I’m enjoying myself that’s normally when I’m fast and I bring good results to the team. I also feel that the team needs good results to make the second half feel better. I can understand that the news has been very difficult to accept and understand, but now we’ll put it to one side and just give our best to enjoy the remainder.” What type of training did you do during the break? “I trained every day during the summer break, especially cycling. Then a few times per week I tried to get out on a motorbike: either MX, minibike, or trials. In Andorra it’s perfect for trials riding, and I like to set myself the challenge of riding sections. I also did some karting and I went to the gym a few times a week. My training was much the same as it is year-round, except in the winter I switch cycling for skimo!” How did you spend your free time away from the track? It seems you were quite busy… Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP MotoGP Mir recovered from a bad start to finish close to the top group at Mandalika “The way we’ve worked hard through difficult situations has been important.” Joan Mir “Yes, this break was a special one! I got married, and before that I had a stag party in Ibiza with five of my friends. It was really nice and I enjoyed it a lot. Normally I don’t go partying during the summer, but this was a special occasion, and it was cool to have a weekend with my mates. The wedding was really amazing, and then I had a holiday in Mallorca.” What would you keep from the first half of the year, and what would you change? “I would keep the spirit that the whole team have had, the way we’ve worked hard through the difficult situations has been important, and I definitely feel it’s something to keep. What I’d change is the crashes, I crashed too much during the first part of the season due to many different factors.” Which remaining rounds are you most looking forward to? “Well, Silverstone is not a track that I like a lot, but our bike always seems to suit the circuit and we tend to do well. Last year we made the wrong tyre choice and it was costly, but my pace was good. Apart from that, I really like Austria and also Phillip Island, but most tracks are OK for me. It will also be very emotional to return to Motegi and to have the ‘last dance’ there.” LIVIO SUPPO, Team Manager What are your aims and hopes for the rest of the season? “Clearly our aim is to just go back to the beginning of the season where we were very strong. We still have nine races to go, and I really hope that both Joan and Alex enjoy their last part of their careers with Suzuki and have fun.” How do you assess the team’s reaction to the news of Suzuki’s departure from MotoGP? “It’s a sad situation, but I’m really pleased with the way all the team have reacted. It is not
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 7 2022 Summer Issue easy, but everybody is keeping very focused and, honestly, also the atmosphere inside the team hasn’t dropped dramatically. Even if some people are thinking that our family atmosphere is lost, it’s simply not true. I’m very proud of the way the team have responded.” What’s been your favourite moment with Suzuki so far? “Probably Portimão, it was a very special moment with ups and downs, but Alex rode an unbelievable race in Portugal and Joan was also very competitive, even though he was involved in the crash with Jack Miller. During that race weekend they both clearly showed that they were title contenders. From a nonracing side, it is sure that when I arrived in the team in Qatar, after four years away from the paddock and the team didn’t know me, I didn’t know what to expect but… I was really happy to see a warm welcome from everybody and this is something that I will never forget.” How do you think this extra-long break could affect development or team spirit? Perhaps a recharge has been a positive thing? “Honestly speaking it doesn’t matter in our current situation. I think such a long stop in the Championship is a little bit too much. I speak more for the riders regarding the concentration. It was a very, very long break, Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP MotoGP “I’m very proud of the way the team have responded,” said Livio Suppo, Team Manager “I think we have a great opportunity to leave all Suzuki fans with a good memory of Suzuki MotoGP.” Livio Suppo, Team Manager It’s always for the crew watching from the pit wall so it’s almost like starting the season again from the beginning.” What’s your message to Alex and Joan heading into the second part of the season? “I think we have a great opportunity to leave all Suzuki fans with a good memory of Suzuki MotoGP. We still have nine races which is a long way, and we have good chances to make great results. We’ve absorbed the bad news and now we have extra motivation to give the fantastic Suzuki fans around the world something to smile about.” SHINICHI SAHARA, Team Director and Project Leader What are Suzuki’s plans for the rest of the season? “We never give up, and we’ll continue to try and achieve the maximum results possible for each of the remaining races this season. I believe that this way will bring us the best championship results, taking each race weekend as it comes and giving our all. We have some more specific targets, but I don’t want to share them right now. I prefer to keep these goals among the team.” How did the cancellation of Finland and consequent long break affect the team plan? “I think all the staff and both our riders benefitted from the longer break. It gave them
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TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 9 2022 Summer Issue a chance to relax a little. Also, in the factory we had more discussion time and more opportunity to work on our strategy for the second half of the season.” Do you feel that the team has pulled together following the news of Suzuki’s departure? “After we heard the news from Suzuki headquarters we felt a lot of disappointment about the decision. But I feel that it has given everybody a boost in a way. It’s made us more determined to fight for results. Everybody has pulled together very well, and the spirit remains strong.” What would you say about Suzuki’s performance so far this season? “The beginning of the season like Qatar, Argentina, USA, we showed some good competitiveness, but when we started the European part of the season our results weren’t reflecting our real potential. During the summer break we’ve tried to find how we can recover and how we can improve the balance of the bike. So, I believe we’ll be able to show our real “I believe we’ll be able to show our real performance for the rest of the season.” Shinichi Sahara, Team Director and Project Leader Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP MotoGP performance for the rest of the season.” Which rounds are you particularly looking forward to? “One of our favourite circuits is Silverstone, we’ve had a lot of good results here in the past. Aragon is another good one for us, and Austria too. In fact, almost all the remaining races are quite well suited for us. I’m also really looking forward to racing in Motegi again, because it’s Suzuki’s home race and it will be a special feeling to return to Japan. I hope we can have a good result there.” KEN KAWAUCHI, Technical Manager What are your aims and hopes for the rest of the season? “Well, of course, we always try to win, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out despite our best efforts. Our bike’s performance this year is better than last year, “We never give up,” said Shinichi Sahara, Team Director & Project Leader Rins enjoyed podium success in Argentina with a 3rd place
This photo depicts a professional rider on a closed course and includes an optional accessory The Beauty of Naked Aggression
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 11 2022 Summer Issue but we’ve still only managed a few podiums, and no win yet - so at least one win, this is our minimum target.” Did the longer-than-usual summer break affect your planning and strategy? “From a development side, it meant we could prepare a little bit more than usual. We are always developing and trying to improve. So far we haven’t brought many new items, but some more are coming and I hope this will help us to achieve better results.” Will there be any further development or parts coming into play before the end of the season? “As everybody knows, Suzuki has announced that it will stop racing at the end of this year, but this didn’t mean that we would stop development. We’ve kept on trying to improve, and this is demonstrated by the fact that we’ll have a lot of items at the Misano Test. Despite only having a few races left, our testing plan remains the same.” Do you think the remaining circuits will suit the GSX-RR? “There’s not only one circuit, but several where we could succeed. Silverstone is a good track for us, but so are some of the ‘fly-away’ rounds. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we haven’t raced in Motegi, Philip Island or Sepang for a long time. These tracks are traditionally good ones for us. However, during these two or three years our bike has changed and improved and so have the bikes of other manufacturers, so nobody really knows what the situation is, but I feel optimistic.” We’ve kept on trying to improve and, despite only having a few races left, our testing plan remains the same.” Ken Kawauchi, Technical Manager Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP MotoGP Rins finished 7th at Silverstone, a race he had been looking forward to
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 12 2022 Summer Issue Suzuki is no stranger to EWC triumph, having won 20 championships in the discipline, 17 of which have been achieved by SERT, one of them was obviously as Yoshimura-SERT in 2021. As the 2022 season got underway, Yoshimura SERT Motul was on track to continue the Suzuki EWC success story. 24-Heures Motos, Le Mans: 16th & 17th April Defending World Champion Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Motul raced to an emphatic victory at the 24 Heures Motos EWC season opener in Le Mans, France. The team of Black, Guintoli and Siméon completed a total of 840 laps at the Bugatti Circuit, 1:45.582 minutes ahead of nearest rivals YART and took 23 pit stops, under favourable weather conditions and in front of a large crowd. Fast-starter Black, from second on the grid, took the holeshot aboard the team’s GSXR1000R Suzuki and was able to get the better of THE TITLE CHASE The Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) Motul lined up for the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) as reigning world champion back in April, fully motivated to defend its championship title. The successful rider lineup of Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Siméon returned to the opening round at Le Mans with the same confidence-boosting team set-up and management that supported them throughout the 2021 season and, of course, the world championship winning Suzuki GSX-R1000R. EWC 2022 Watanabe was reserve rider at the 24 Heures Motos
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 13 2022 Summer Issue “I am glad to start the second season with such a brilliant result.” Yohei Kato Guintoli shares hand-over info with Black at Le Mans Siméon and Black and team watch anxiously as Guintoli brings the Suzuki GSX-R1000R safely home at Le Mans Night time racing tests the skills and strengths of the riders and crew EWC 2022 by the level of performance of all the teams. I am really admiring the work of our three riders. I am also very proud of the whole technical team around me, with Yohei, with the Yoshimura staff in Japan, with the SERT team in Le Mans. I think we are all happy with this race, which was exceptional.” Yohei Kato – Team Director: “I am glad to start the second season with such a brilliant result and I am very satisfied with the work done by the whole team. We put a lot of effort into preparing for the 2022 season over the winter and it has paid off. We have the same team as when we won the 24 Heures Motos last year, and their hard work has once again been rewarded by a victory!” Gregg Black: “I was expected to do the start because I usually do pretty well. This year it was a bit different. I crashed heavily in the preparatory practice a few days ago where I broke my heel. In the end I managed to get over it and ensure a good start. Then it was an incredible race, with a very strong pace from the beginning to the end. We had to push as hard as we could in every stint because we had some really strong competitors. My teammates were also very strong and the whole team did a great job.” his opponents right out of the first corner. After spending much of the race in a steady third place, the team moved to the front on Saturday evening; a position they dominated with a strong race plan, reliable machine and fast, efficient pit stops by the team’s technical staff. Through the night, the trio of riders remained fixed on the plan and Black took the event lap record at daybreak with a time of 1.36.195. Always focused on its goals, the FrancoJapanese team gave everything to maintain its lead in the race against strong competition. On the track, the Suzuki riders did not make any mistakes, maintaining control throughout the challenging 24-hour event, which witnessed the deployment of a safety car no less than eight times. The team even overcame a tricky incident during the outing of the second safety car when Guintoli ran out of fuel but, as ever, in the pits, the technical team provided the perfect back-up until the chequered flag fell. In addition to the extra 23 points acquired in qualifying, and at the 8th and 16th hours of the race, 40 points were earned for the victory, which gave Yoshimura SERT Motul a total of 63 points and a strong start to its title defence. Damien Saulnier – Team Manager: “What a week! What a race! I was impressed
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TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 15 2022 Summer Issue race was difficult. We need the speed, the strategy, the whole team in the box that worked perfectly. Our fuel consumption was also better than our opponents and that also played an important role. We gave everything this weekend, and we can be proud to go home with the trophy.” Championship standings (top 3): 1. Yoshimura SERT Motul, 63 points, 2. YART - Yamaha Official Team 55, 3. F.C.C. TSR Honda 49. 24H Spa EWC Motos, Belgium: 4th & 5th June As the FIM EWC Championship returned to Belgium, for the first time since 2001, the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps lived up to its hype with its on and off-track challenges. Crashes, mechanical damage, variable weather conditions and numerous changes of leadership made this event very difficult for both riders and machines. British Superbike rider Christian Iddon joined the team as reserve rider for this round. Benefitting from solid teamwork and the fast pace of the reigning World Champion, and series leader, he posted the fastest time in his session with a best lap of 2.21.864. The Xavier Siméon: “The team really did a fantastic job on the strategy to allow us to do a maximum of laps and a minimum of pit stops. On the track, the bike showed extraordinary potential. We were able to set some incredible lap times. In fact, Gregg broke the absolute record in the race. But it was still a tough race because we had to push hard to the finish line.” Sylvain Guintoli: This is a very different victory to 2021. The “The team really did a great job on the strategy to allow us to do a maximum of laps and a minimum of pit stops.” Xavier Siméon EWC 2022 team qualified in third position. The Yoshimura SERT Motul GSX-R1000R dominated the first part of the race. Black started third on the grid and led the first lap. He then engaged in a close and competitive sprint-style fight with his main rivals before extending his lead. Siméon and Guintoli maintained the same high pace, allowing the team to increase its lead. Guintoli was particularly impressive on the SPA track, posting very fast laps, at times equalling those of the qualifying session. The Frenchman broke the absolute race lap record with a time of 2.21.056. The Yoshimura SERT Motul team retained its position out front at the eighth hour of the race and collected an additional 10 bonus
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 16 2022 Summer Issue points in the process. The team was in perfect control and started the night with a significant lead over its closest competitors. At the tenth hour of the race, however, a technical issue put a temporary end to this domination. As ever, the Suzuki team crew pulled together and after just 25 minutes were able to send the Suzuki GSX-R1000R back out on track in 14th position. Two hours later, the team had hauled its way back to seventh place and was in the top three by early morning. The sudden arrival of rain changed the track situation and many riders, including Black, crashed on the slippery surface. Black managed to steer the heavily damaged GSX-R1000R back to the pits and the team pulled out all the stops to repair the bike in record time. A seemingly fearless Black returned to the race in fifth place. As the 24-hour race neared the final hours, all riders were returned to the pits because of an oil spillage on track. This led to a lengthy suspension of the race. Once restarted, the EWC competitors were behind a control car for a few laps. Siméon respected the safety instructions and, once clear, rode hard to chase down third position on a wet and challenging track. His charge was slowed when back markers came into play, however, he brought the team bike home in fourth place and consolidated the team’s position as leader in the championship. Damien Saulnier – Team Manager: “I am both disappointed and happy. Disappointed because we are not on the podium. As for Gregg’s crash, it was an unfortunate race event. By the way, several riders were trapped in the same place within a few minutes. Obviously, these two hard knocks did not make our job any easier. But each time, we came back to the front. I am “Our team did an amazing job to keep us going, they changed the gearbox in 25 minutes.” Sylvain Guintoli EWC 2022 very proud of our team’s work. In the end, we scored some important points and increased our lead in the championship.” Yohei Kato – Team Director: “There were ups and downs. We were performing well until the middle of the race; we led for a long time. The riders were very fast, and the technical team was also very efficient in the pits. Then we had some problems, but we managed to restart and move up in the standings to fight for the podium. Then the rain got in the way, and we moved up again. We showed great performances in the dry and in the wet. I’m really proud of the work of all the team members.” Sylvain Guintoli: “In Spa we experienced the ups and downs of 24-hour endurance racing. Leading in the first 10 hours, a technical issue, stop andgo penalty, crash, the race was mad. But our team did an amazing job to keep us going and repaired the bike with great speed after the crash. As riders, we never gave up and kept pushing until the end and came out with very important points for the World Championship. Suzuka 8H next…” Gregg Black: “The goal here was to score points for the championship and that’s what we did. Beyond that, we were above the rest in the race, whatever the conditions, day or night. We can really be satisfied with the work of the whole team, which was very good, once again. The team was amazing, and we were able to come back in the standings until I got trapped on a slippery track. Xavier Siméon: “The team did a great job fixing the bike on two occasions. Our trio of riders also did well with a very solid race. We really had the best pace of the whole field; the Suzuki was The 24-Hour at Spa proved to be super-challenging, Siméon rode the last stint in adverse conditions The crowds flocked to get an autograph from local star Siméon at Spa
Own The Racetrack
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 18 2022 Summer Issue working very well, and the Bridgestone tyres helped us get the most out of it. We really showed that we were the favourites for the victory. Championship standings (top 3): 1. Yoshimura SERT Motul, 106 points, 2. F.C.C. TSR Honda 91, 3. YART - Yamaha Official Team 76. Watanabe to race at Suzuki 8H As preparations got underway for the third round of the 2022 EWC at Suzuka, the only non-24 hour race of the series, the team announced a change to the rider line-up. Kazuki Watanabe received the call to step up as a full team member for the 60th anniversary of the iconic event at Suzuka, Japan. In addition to contesting the All Japan Championship, the Japanese rider had played a crucial role within the Yoshimura SERT Motul operation developing the Suzuki GSXR1000R as test/reserve rider. It was always the intention that Watanabe would earn his EWC race stripes at the Suzuka 8H and 2022 “I am very proud of our team’s work. We scored some important points and increased our lead in the championship.” Damien Saulnier EWC 2022 Black leads the EWC field at Spa was his chance to perform in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. While Watanabe was poised to join team regulars Guintoli and Siméon, Black was set to take on a leadership position as Team Captain, supporting the riders from the pit box. “Gregg is an essential part of the team with his experience and knowledge as well as his leadership qualities”, said Team Director Yohei Kato. “He will be working in the team as a Rider-Captain and will be on standby to take part in the race at any time.” All change again as Black gets drafted back in Just days before the start of the 43rd CocaCola Suzuka 8 Hours EWC, Black was back in the championship saddle. Black was already at Suzuka testing with the team and, when it became clear that Siméon was unable to ride due to suffering from Covid, Black was perfectly placed to leave his managerial role and resume his position as an integral part of the race team alongside Guintoli and Watanabe.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 19 2022 Summer Issue EWC 2022 Guintoli out of Suzuka 8 Hours after test accident In another twist of fate for the team, Guintoli sustained a hand injury during testing and was ruled out of racing at Suzuka. He was flown back to the UK for treatment, leaving Black and Watanabe as a two-man team for the weekend ahead. Said Guintoli: “I am really gutted I can’t race this weekend. Returning to the Suzuka 8H after two years was a great challenge, and one I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to race. We are leading the World Championship and I wish the team and my team mates all the best. I know they are very strong and I can’t wait to be back at the Bol d’Or for the next and final race of 2022.” Suzuka 8-Hours, Japan: 7th August The team pulled off a remarkable feat at the Suzuka 8-Hours by finishing third, despite having only two riders and starting from 22nd on the grid. This accomplishment enabled the team to consolidate its position as FIM Endurance World Championship leader. Even though they had a very difficult qualifying session, the entire team had high hopes for the race. At the drop of the flag, Gregg Black made the most of his experience by making an exceptional start, immediately moving up 15 places. A crash at the beginning of the race called for the intervention of the safety car for seven laps. When the race resumed, the Suzuki GSXR1000R, continued to climb in the standings and the team momentarily took the lead in the provisional rankings. “As we were only two riders, we knew it would be very hard. But Gregg and the team did a very good job.” Kazuki Watanabe
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 20 2022 Summer Issue EWC 2022 Despite suffocating heat and fatigue, the two riders remained focused. With just one hour to go, the team was in a strong fourth and well positioned to take advantage of a mistake made by its main championship rival. A superb performance rewarded the team with third place at the finish line of the 2022 EWC Suzuka 8-Hours and, more importantly, consolidated its position as the leader of the FIM EWC championship. Damien Saulnier – Team Manager “It was a complicated week and a crazy race. Finishing in third position is not a victory, but it felt like it. I am really proud of the whole technical team and the riders who did a great job in really difficult conditions. With only two riders, it was not possible to compete with the leaders of the race, but we had to ensure a good score. The contract was fulfilled.” Yohei Kato – Team Director “This podium is like a victory for us. We started 22nd and finished third, it’s incredible. This result is even better than what we expected. On top of that we have increased our lead in the championship. After Gregg’s great start, we stayed calm and followed our roadmap to avoid making any mistakes. I couldn’t have asked for more.” When Kazuki Watanabe took over from Black, the team was in a solid fourth place. Drawing on his knowledge of the Suzuka circuit, the Japanese rider maintained a very fast pace and kept the team towards the front. The Suzuki GSX-R1000R with Bridgestone tyres was superbly prepared for the 8-hour event, and the support crew performed superfast pit stops throughout the race. Although they were missing their third teammate in the physically demanding race, Black and Watanabe maintained their speed and control and were in third place at the halfway point. Watanabe and Black rode their hearts out at Suzuka to put the Suzuki on the podium and increase the team’s championship lead With just two riders to battle against three-men teams, fast and accurate pits stops were essential at Suzuka “This podium is like a victory for us” - Yohei Kato
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 21 2022 Summer Issue EWC 2022 save as many points as possible. From the beginning of the race, it went well for us. The two leading machines had a very high pace, but these teams are not competing for the championship. Their goals were different from ours. This third place is a very good result because the race was very physical, and it was complicated to stay focused until the end. The team and the bike were perfect here. In endurance racing, you have to believe in yourself and not give up. That’s what we did, and the result proves that.” Kazuki Watanabe “As we were only two riders, we knew it would be very hard. But Gregg and the team did a very good job. I’m extremely satisfied Gregg Black “What an incredible race with a result that was a bit unexpected given the conditions. I came here as a team leader. I finally took part in the practice and the race. We were originally aiming for victory, but the withdrawal of Xavier and Sylvain forced us to change our plans. The goal was to with this podium. It’s also very positive for the championship because we take big points. Thanks to everyone who supported us.” Championship standings (top 3): 1. Yoshimura SERT Motul, 127 points, 2. F.C.C. TSR Honda 104, 3. YART - Yamaha Official Team 93. Yoshimura SERT Motul will start the Bol d’Or, final round of the 2022 season scheduled for the 17th and 18th of September, at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, with a tally of 127 championship points and a lead of 23 points over its main rival. Watanabe remains calm as he watches team-mate Black out on track Black & team pulled off a remarkable feat at the Suzuka 8-Hours Suzuka is hot and steamy, Black takes time out to chill “In endurance racing, you have to believe in yourself and not give up. That’s what we did, and the result proves that.” Gregg Black
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 22 2022 Summer Issue MOTOAMERICA Team Hammer and the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team have been one of the leading team’s at the mid-point of the 2022 MotoAmerica AMA/ FIM North American Road Racing Championship in both the Superbike and Supersport championships. MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes Escalante (#54) made his MotoAmerica Superbike debut at the Circuit of the Americas with a 7-5 result. Teammate Lewis (#85) went 6-6. the MotoAmerica series, but is a renowned season-opener even in the USA. The 2020 MotoAmerica Supersport champ demonstrated the speed to challenge for the win early in his first-ever attempt at the Daytona 200. Measured, calm, and lightningquick during his time at the front, Escalante’s form provided early optimism for a trophywinning day. However, the Daytona 200 is notorious for the obstacles and chaos it presents with its challengers, and those seemingly inevitable variables negatively impacted Escalante and teammate Samuel Lochoff. Despite some pitlane difficulties, the team did an admirable job to minimize the damage. Even so, the delay was still enough to effectively drop Escalante from contention for the win. He still managed to maintain both his wits and his speed, ultimately, securing a rock-solid fifth-place effort in the end. Lochoff finished 19th after encountering his own difficulties. “I’m super happy to finish – that’s most important,” Escalante said. “It was my first time to work with the team over a full race weekend and I was happy to work with my new crew. Daytona International Speedway; March 12th Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante registered a top-five effort for Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer in this season’s 80th running of the legendary Daytona 200 to open the 2022 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season in encouraging fashion. The Daytona 200 is not part of
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 23 2022 Summer Issue MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes Escalante enjoyed an encouraging weekend in the premier class aboard the GSX-R1000R, registering a pair of career-best fourth-place finishes. Escalante stepped up to the premier class following the 200 and finished an impressive seventh in his debut. The following day, he upped his game even further as he continued to find his form on the bigger, faster machine after years of stardom on middleweight equipment. The Mexican not only scored his first premier-class top five, he effectively slashed the gap separating himself from the victory by half overnight. Meanwhile, reigning Stock 1000 Champion Jake Lewis piloted the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R to a pair of sixth place finishes in his return ride for the squad. Road Atlanta; April 24th Team Hammer earned their first three trophies of the season at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. On Saturday Lewis arguably served as the Circuit of the Americas; April 10th While Supersport took centre stage in Daytona, the MotoAmerica Superbike class stepped forward to share the spotlight with the superstars of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer opened the 2022 MotoAmerica Superbike championship season in promising fashion with its new-look premier-class lineup. “I definitely wanted it, but I didn’t expect a Supersport win to come quite this early. I knew I would have to get used to the team and the bike, but I wanted the first one to come as soon as possible.” – TYLER SCOTT. Lewis rejoined the official Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team in 2022.
Adventure, in All Directions
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 25 2022 Summer Issue MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes South African Lochoff took the honours with a third-place run in Saturday’s MotoAmerica Supersport race at The Ridge. headliner, scoring his first premier-class podium finish in four seasons. The lanky Kentuckian emerged from a chaotic opening handful of laps in third position and then spent the bulk of the contest defending the position aboard his Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike. Escalante had an even more eventful day; The class newcomer made a fast start from the second row, but ran off track early and dropped outside the points-paying positions before charging his way to fifth. While Lewis’ Sunday race ended prematurely due to a technical issue, Escalante continued his promising premier class performances with a third-consecutive top five, battling for the podium throughout. On the undercard, MotoAmerica Supersport ace Sam Lochoff guided the squad’s nextgeneration GSX-R750 race bike to its firstclass podium result with a runner-up result on Saturday and then followed it up with another on Sunday. Lochoff’s 16-year-old rookie Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate, Tyler Scott, qualified on the front row but a chain reaction caused him to crash on the race’s second lap. He bounced back the following day, ultimately snaring a top-five result in his Team Hammer debut weekend. Virginia International Raceway; May 22nd Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer played a lead role in a dramatic weekend at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia. Sixteen-year-old prodigy Scott made waves, earning his first- and second-career MotoAmerica Supersport podiums with a 2-3 weekend aboard the impressive Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R750. Despite riding with a broken right ankle in the intense heat, Lochoff fought for victory as well. On Saturday, he finished 12th after being bounced off track by a rival, and then came back to take fourth the next day. Premier-class rookie Escalante battled inside the top five on Saturday before an early crash knocked him out of the race, while Lewis registered a measured ride in sweltering conditions, ultimately earning a lonely fifth. On Sunday, the two spent the bulk of the contest embroiled in an intra-team fight with Escalante taking sixth and Lewis seventh. Road America; June 5th Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer celebrated a landmark victory in spectacular fashion at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. That triumph came courtesy of rising star Scott, who demonstrated both wisdom beyond his years and a flair for the dramatic with a perfectly executed draft pass to win Saturday’s MotoAmerica Supersport contest. “I definitely wanted it, but I didn’t expect a Supersport win to come quite this early,” Scott Supersport ace Sam Lochoff guided the squad’s next-generation GSX-R750 race bike to its first class podium result at Road Atlanta.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 26 2022 Summer Issue MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes Escalante enjoyed an encouraging weekend in the premier class aboard the GSXR1000R, registering a pair of career-best fourth-place finishes. treacherous wet-to-dry conditions on Sunday, with Lewis seventh and Escalante 15th. Ridge Motorsports Park; June 26th Team Hammer added to their extensive trophy collection at Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington. South African Lochoff took the honours with a third-place run in Saturday’s MotoAmerica Supersport race, while the fast-rising Scott improved from fifth on Saturday to score a runner-up result aboard his Vision Wheel M4 Suzuki GSX-R750 on Sunday. Unfortunately, Sunday wasn’t nearly so kind to Lochoff. Already suffering from a painful broken ankle, he crashed while running in fifth early before remounting to claim a gritty 15th. However, third Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Supersport pilot Liam Grant stepped up to make up for Lochoff’s difficulties. The rookie came home sixth – his best Supersport result yet – as he continued to build confidence and speed throughout his rookie campaign. The team’s Superbike duo each suffered falls on Saturday. Lewis suffered a broken thumb, bruised hip, and banged up elbow in his crash, ruling him out for a number of rounds. Escalante rebounded to slash up through from last to 10th on Saturday and then reeled in a solid Sunday sixth. said. “I knew I would have to get used to the team and the bike, but I wanted the first one to come as soon as possible. The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R750 was amazing for the entire race. All thanks to my entire crew.” He hoped to make it a double win despite inclement weather on Sunday. However, he was nearly pushed off track by a rival. Off line in the slick conditions, the youngster suffered a fall in the very next corner. Lochoff was engaged in a five-ride battle for the final spot on the podium in Scott’s Saturday win, finishing a close seventh. And unfortunately, his Sunday race ended before it ever started due to a mechanical issue suffered on the warm-up lap. Saturday’s MotoAmerica Superbike race saw Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammates Lewis and Escalante both improved upon their qualifying positions aboard their twin GSX-R1000Rs to finish sixth and seventh, respectively. The two then struggled in Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Superbike rookie, Escalante, enjoyed a hugely encouraging weekend in the premier class, registering a pair of career-best fourth-place efforts.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 27 2022 Summer Issue MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer celebrated a landmark victory in spectacular fashion at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin with Scott’s victory aboard the GSX-R750. weekend in the premier class, registering a pair of career-best fourth-place efforts. With team regular Lewis still on the shelf, multi-time Superbike podium finisher Kyle Wyman rode in his stead, adding an eighth and seventh on the weekend. Brainerd International Raceway; July 31st Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer collected valuable points and experience as the season resumed at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota. Scott and Ventura picked right up where they left off in California, scoring the team’s fifth double top-five in the class this season. Scott then significantly upped his pace overnight. Unfortunately, that improved speed went unrewarded as he crashed from second while chasing after the leader. Ventura, however, continued his stellar run in WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway; July 10th Scott continued his steep upward progress at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, adding two MotoAmerica Supersport runner-up results along with fast lap honours and pole position to his impressive rookie tally. Meanwhile, with Lochoff away mending his injuries, substitute rider Cory Ventura quickly adapted to the team’s GSX-R750 to run up front and collect an eighth on Saturday and then break into the top five in fifth on Sunday. Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Superbike rookie, Escalante, enjoyed a hugely encouraging Jake Lewis arguably served as the headliner, scoring his first premier-class podium finish in four seasons.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 28 2022 Summer Issue MotoAmerica AMA Superbikes Wyman joined the team at Laguna Seca in place of injured Lewis in the Superbike class. fly the flag by his lonesome in his return ride from injury. The Kentuckian gritted out ninth- and seventh-place results aboard the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 despite still being less than 100 per cent. substitute duty, securing his third-straight top five by finishing fourth. Superbike rookie Escalante suffered a hard fall in qualifying that ruled him out for the remainder of the weekend, leaving Lewis to ABOUT TEAM HAMMER The 2022 season marks Team Hammer’s 42nd consecutive year of operating as a professional road racing team. Race bikes built and fielded by Team Hammer have won 129 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National races, have finished on AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National podiums 344 times and have won 11 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National Championships, as well as two FIM South American Championships (in Superbike and Supersport.) The team has also won 137 endurance races overall (including seven 24-hour races) and 13 Overall WERA National Endurance Championships with Suzuki motorcycles and holds the U.S. record for mileage covered in a 24-hour race. The team also competed in the televised 1990s Formula USA National Championship, famously running “Methanol Monster” GSX-R1100 Superbikes fuelled by methanol, and won four F-USA Championships.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 29 2022 Summer Issue BUILDBASE SUZUKI TAKES ON BSB & NORTH WEST 200 Injuries overshadowed progress and points for Buildbase Suzuki in the first half of the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship. Although Christian Iddon and Danny Kent have had it tough, there have been plenty of positives to take away so far into the second half of the season. Cooper en-route to Superstock victory at Brands Hatch. British Superbikes 2022
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 30 2022 Summer Issue Danny Kent in action at the Oulton Park second round. British Superbikes 2022 first time on the Suzuki Superbike so it was all about seat time and getting used to the bike. It was a shame to lose the Donington test, and Silverstone was challenging.” It put the team on the back foot, and round one was a challenge, with just one top-10 finish to show for their efforts. However, progress was incoming, and at the next round at Oulton Park Iddon took a brace of sevenths and set a new personal best lap time at the circuit. “I was really pleased with how we worked as a team all weekend at Oulton. There were loads of positives to take, including going from 17th to seventh after a disastrous qualifying. We were finally able to get with the leading group in race three until the footrest hanger snapped, and I’d never lapped Oulton Park that fast before, so there were real positives to take away.” Podium success at North West The team then headed to Northern Ireland for the International North West 200 with Richard Cooper, who rejoined the team after an impressive debut at the event in 2019. The Challenging start to BSB Both Iddon and Kent came into the 2022 season from different places. Kent was going into his second season with the Buildbase Suzuki team, looking to build on the positives from 2021. Despite his year being cut short by injury, the former Moto3 World Champion took his maiden BSB podium at Thruxton before fracturing and dislocating his hip at Donington Park, ending his season early. For Iddon, he was joining the team afresh, though he boasted previous Suzuki experience having ridden a GSX-R1000 in 2015. A race winner and previous championship runner-up, he was very much aiming high, while also realistic in the need to adapt to the latest GSX-R1000R and find his feet within the team. Sadly, it was a less than ideal start to the year, with poor weather limiting pre-season testing. Kent suffered further, when he missed the Silverstone test after testing positive for Covid-19. “It wasn’t ideal,” Iddon reflects. “The first day at Snetterton was really good but it was my “For the first time this year, I felt really good on the bike and I felt our potential was really high for the races.” Danny Kent.
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 31 2022 Summer Issue Kent in Action at Brands Hatch in July. British Superbikes 2022 “Training wise, I can’t run, but I can do everything else and it wasn’t hindering me on the bike. And, while I was sidelined, the event didn’t run, which meant I hadn’t missed a single lap there so I wasn’t coming back and playing catchup.” Picking up where he left off, Cooper was in impressive form, and came away from the event with three podiums in very different and challenging conditions. He finished third in the opening Superstock race, before finishing third and second respectively in both of Saturday’s Superbike races. North West 200 ran from May the 8th to the 15th. It is not part of the British Superbike Series, but is a major public roads event in the UK race calendar. “The plan to go back to the North West was always on the cards with Buildbase Suzuki Team Manager Steve Hicken and the team,” he said. “I said I’d only ever go back with them as they’ve got so much experience and knowledge, and that gives you the confidence you need.” Cooper, too, was returning from a serious leg injury sustained in 2020. However, due to the global pandemic, he hadn’t missed any North West 200 racing action. “The injury in 2020 was severe, but it wasn’t stopping me day-to-day,” he continued. “The first day at Snetterton was really good but it was my first time on the Suzuki Superbike so it was all about seat time and getting used to the bike.” – Christian Iddon. Iddon. After his two sevenths at Oulton Park, he took another seventh and two sixths at Donington Park in May; results that saw him move closer to the leading group, and also move into the Showdown positions in the championship. However, it was a bad weekend for Kent, who had, so far, struggled to rediscover his form from 2021. He looked to have turned a corner at Donington, and closed FP2 fifth on the time sheets. Unfortunately, a huge crash in FP3 left him with two bruised and punctured lungs and a concussion. “I was delighted with the results. The team put together two great bikes and we were competitive on both. I had to be happy; Glenn Irwin and a lot of the other guys ride their bikes week in, week out. It wasn’t like I was unfamiliar with the Suzuki but it’d been a couple of years since I’d been on it. So to come away with three podiums and to do the lap time we did, I’m happy.” Steady return to BSB Back in the British Superbike Championship, things were moving in the right direction for
TEAM SUZUKI RACING NEWS 32 2022 Summer Issue Iddon was the sole racer at Donington Park after Kent suffered a major crash in FP3. British Superbikes 2022 off speed and I didn’t realise how slow he was going until I was right on him, which is why I hit the side of him. I just wasn’t expecting him to go that slowly. If I had I would have pointed the bike at the middle of the corner and gone up the inside. But ultimately I was the rider behind, it’s my responsibility to pass, so I’ve definitely played my part. “It’s just really unfortunate for everyone and it’s a shame because I was feeling good. We topped a wet FP1 which was nice, as that was “I was really gutted to miss the weekend after the crash because, for the first time this year, I felt really good on the bike and I felt our potential was really high for the races,” he said. “It was a fast crash down Craners and I banged my head a bit, and I was coughing up blood at the side of the track.” The injury curse continued for the Buildbase Suzuki team at the next round at Knockhill in June, when Iddon was involved in a freak sighting lap incident with another rider, leaving him with a broken arm and three nonfinishes. “It was a bit of a freak accident,” said Iddon. “I saw the rider in front of me and was aware he was there, and as we braked into the hairpin it was fine, but he just kept scrubbing “It wasn’t like I was unfamiliar with the Suzuki but it’d been a couple of years since I’d been on it. So to come away with three podiums and to do the lap time we did, I’m happy.” – Richard Cooper. our first time out in the wet, and while P8 in qualifying isn’t anything to write home about it was our best of the year and we’ve been able to challenge for the top-six from back in 15th before, so I was excited to see what we could do.” Brands Hatch, at the end of July, marked the end of the opening half of the season. Kent, now firing on all cylinders, began to show the form he’d been searching for all season, and took his first top 10 finish of the season. “Brands was a better weekend for me, for sure. I set a new PB, too but it shows how strong the field is when we were still down in 15th. We tried to improve and make some changes. We got some points on the board which, I think, showed we’ve made progress, and I was happy to come away with a ninth place. These were some of my better races this year, and hopefully now we can keep pushing and have a good second half of the year.”