2008 SUZUKI MOTORCYCLE RACING ACTIVITIES
Team Suzuki Press Office – February 12, 2008.
Suzuki Motor Corporation is pleased to announce its motorcycle racing activities for 2008. Through its racing participation across the globe, Suzuki will publicise the superiority of its motorcycle products to the world market and reaffirm its racing heritage to the public.
1) MotoGP World Championship:
Class: MotoGP. Machine: GSV-R. Team: RIZLA SUZUKI MotoGP.
Riders: Loris Capirossi, Chris Vermeulen.
In 2007, the factory RIZLA SUZUKI MotoGP team participated in this class with two riders, John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen, aboard the 2007 GSV-R, a machine whose engine capacity had been reduced from 990cc to 800cc in accordance with regulation changes. The newly-developed 800cc engine was the perfect match for its finely honed chassis, inherited from the 2006 model. Making the most of this harmony of handling and power, Hopkins achieved four brilliant podium finishes and ended the season in fourth position in the world championship, an outstanding improvement on his previous championship standing of 10th. His team mate Chris Vermeulen also rode excellently and achieved a maiden win for himself and the GSV-R at the French GP. Vermeulen’s fine form continued as he clinched podium finishes in the UK, San Marino and in the US, which culminated in a series ranking of sixth. The team achieved one double podium at the San Marino GP, where Hopkins finished second and Vermeulen third. The GSV-R claimed eight podium finishes during the 2007 season, representing great success for the RIZLA SUZUKI MotoGP team.
For 2008, the team is sponsored once again by RIZLA, and Chris Vermeulen is joined by experienced Italian star Loris Capirossi. Needless to say, the bolstered RIZLA Suzuki MotoGP team will be vying for the championship win.
2) Superbike World Championship:
Class: SBK. Machine: GSX-R1000. Team: Team ALSTARE SUZUKI.
Riders: Yukio Kagayama, Fonsi Nieto, Max Neukirchner.
In 2007, Max Biaggi finished third overall, which was an outstanding achievement in what was his debut season in this ultra-competitive championship.
In 2008, Team ALSTARE SUZUKI will comprise three riders – the hot-blooded Japanese star Yukio Kagayama, Spanish newcomer Fonsi Nieto and newly-appointed German rider Max Neukirchner. They will race aboard the refined 2008 GSX-R1000 in an attempt to win back the championship title.
3) World Endurance Championship:
Class: EWC. Machine: GSX-R1000. Team: SERT (Suzuki Endurance Racing Team).
In 2007, the Suzuki France-supported SERT (Suzuki Endurance Racing Team) claimed its third successive Championship title. Furthermore, at the third round of the series, the Suzuka eight-hour Endurance race, the Yoshimura Suzuki team pairing of Yukio Kagayama and Kousuke Akiyoshi won the race, claiming Yoshimura Suzuki Team’s first win of this prestigious race for 27 years and Suzuki’s first win for 24 years.
In 2008, SERT will aim to reclaim the championship and take its tally to four straight wins.
4) AMA Superbike championship:
Class: SBK. Machine: GSX-R1000. Team: ROCKSTAR MAKITA YOSHIMURA SUZUKI.
Riders: Ben Spies, Mat Mladin, Tommy Hayden.
In 2007, ROCKSTAR MAKITA YOSHIMURA SUZUKI riders Mat Mladin and Ben Spies had a close contest from the beginning of the series. Spies claimed his second consecutive championship title with a lead of just one point over his team mate, giving Suzuki its fifth consecutive championship title.
In 2008, the team will continue to participate in the championship with the title-holder Spies, Mladin and Tommy Hayden. Together they will seek to renew the record of six consecutive wins for the team.
5) British Superbike championship:
Class: BSB. Machine: GSX-R1000. Team: Team RIZLA SUZUKI.
Riders: Atsushi Watanabe, Tom Sykes.
For the 2008 British Superbike championship, Team RIZLA SUZUKI will participate with the 2007 Japan Superbike champion Atsushi Watanabe and British contender Tom Sykes. It has been four years since a Japanese rider fought for this championship with Suzuki – when Yukio Kagayama participated in 2003/ 04.
6) Japan Superbike championship:
Class: JSB1000. Machine: GSX-R1000. Team: Team YOSHIMURA SUZUKI.
Riders: Kousuke Akiyoshi, Daisaku Sakai.
In 2007, YOSHIMURA SUZUKI rider Atsushi Watanabe won the championship title while his new team mate Daisaku Sakai finished in third position in what was his debut year in the series. It was Watanabe’s second title win and the first for Yoshimura in 18 years, since Doug Polen won his title in 1989 (TT-F1/F3 double wins).
In 2008 Sakai and Suzuka eight-hour endurance race winner Akiyoshi will participate in this class, aiming for the second consecutive win for YOSHIMURA SUZUKI.
Motocross World Championship:
Class: MX1. Machine: RM-Z450. Team: Team SUZUKI WMX Grand Prix.
Riders: Steve Ramon, Ken De Dycker.
In 2007, Suzuki participated in the World Motocross MX1 class with Kevin Strijbos and Steve Ramon aboard the RM-Z450, fighting for the championship title. Ramon achieved sterling podium finishes from the beginning of the series, bringing the World Title back to Suzuki after an interval of five years. Meanwhile, Strijbos claimed a total of 14 podiums, including double wins at the Czech GP, ranking second overall in the series. This combined dominance meant the RM-Z450 claimed the top two positions and brought Suzuki the manufacturer title as well.
In 2008, with the champion Ramon and newly-appointed 2005 Germany MX championship title-holder Ken De Dycker, Suzuki will aim to retain the title.
2) AMA Supercross:
Class: Supercross. Machine: RM-Z450. Team: ROCKSTAR MAKITA SUZUKI TEAM.
Riders: David Vuillemin, Mike Alessi, Michael Byrne.
For 2008, the ROCKSTAR MAKITA SUZUKI TEAM will see Michael Byrne and newcomers David Vuillemin and Mike Alessi contest the class aboard the RM-Z450.
3) All Japan Motocross championship:
Class: IA1. Machine: RM-Z450. Team: Team SUZUKI.
Riders: Youhei Kojima, Yoshiki Kitai, Kuraudo Toda
In 2007, Youhei Kojima consistently earned points from the beginning of the series and overcame an injury suffered during the last part of the series to rank third overall. Yoshiki Kitai attained fifth position overall, the best of his career, while Toda suffered from injury mid-season and finished in 10th position.
For 2008, endeavouring to build on the success of last season, the three talented Team SUZUKI riders will continue to run in the IA class. The team will strive for the title by making careful use of the precious data acquired in 2007.