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17 days ago
By motogp.com

United more than ever, Suzuki chase record breaking 2021

Debriefing the media, Shinichi Sahara talked Triple Crown goals as well a newly formed committee to deal with the exit of Davide Brivio

Tags MotoGP, 2021

The mark of champions is the desire to always be better, and following the goals set out from his media debrief, Suzuki Project Manager Shinichi Sahara is keen to cement their Champion status in 2021. A Triple Crown coupled with a Championship one-two for the season ahead is the target for the Hamamatsu factory despite the exit of former Team Manager Davide Brivio, a man who proved instrumental in their successes of last season.

Acknowledging the fact it was a blow to their ambitions, it is anything but fatal as Sahara emphasized during the debrief, citing his faith in a newly formed Team Committee to step up in the absence of an official Team Manager, with it also an opportunity for someone from within to prove their merit for the role.

“The Team Manager job is not simple. There are various kinds of jobs Davide was doing as Team Manager. I don’t know what the biggest thing is that we will miss. For the moment, I can’t imagine it as we have many skilled people on the team and those guys can compensate his departure,” said Sahara.

“We have already started the new committee and it has worked very well so far and everything is under control. I think the team is united more than before as Davide heard all the opinions and suggestions from those guys and gathered the info and data and forwarded them to me or the proper person and would filter them, but now we are doing more direct communication, for that reason I feel we are united more than before. We are trying to overcome a difficult situation together.”

How Brivio took Suzuki to the summit

The committee itself will be formed by some of Suzuki’s key players, with Sahara and Technical Manager Ken Kawauchi joined by Crew Chiefs Frankie Carchedi and Jose Manuel Cazeaux, Team Coordinators Mitia Dotta and Roberto Brivio as well as Marketing & Communication Manager Alberto Gomez and it is not yet known whether they are just a short term solution.

“I don’t know who will become Team Manager in the future but for everyone, it is a good chance to learn what the job is through the committee. I think those guys are very high skilled, so it won’t be any wonder that someone will get a promotion in the future, but not me!”

“The committee must be flexible, so from that point, you could say temporary, but at the moment I am happy. In the future, I don’t know, we will see what happen. We haven’t had a single race with this committee system so we will see and if necessary, we will choose someone from the outside, but I can’t imagine who that would be or if it is necessary or not. The best situation is I could promote someone from within the team, for me it is ideal. We will see during the season.”

When Joan Mir sealed the Championship at the Valencian Grand Prix last season, it broke Suzuki’s 20-year wait for a MotoGP™ World Championship, and almost 40 years after their last back-to-back success, Sahara has his eyes on ending another drought.

"We are aiming to become even stronger than last year. I don’t like to call ourselves the defending Champions, we want to be challenging to win."

“Always our target is winning. For instance, in 2019, we won two races in the US and the UK, at the time I thought winning single races made a difference in management and all the people of Suzuki, on how they see the activity of MotoGP™. But now, after winning a Championship, it is a different level from winning only one or two races. Every year, we set a target, we try to win the Championship but in reality, our target may be second or third in the Championship.”

“Next year’s target is very clear, one and two. Also, the team title again and the Constructors' Championship. I think it is difficult, but I’d like to challenge and achieve this target.”

A Champion in conversation: Mir talks in-depth on 2020 title

As the only team on the grid not to see a change in their rider line-up, Sahara feels this can prove crucial as they set their sights on success, insisting that both Joan Mir and Alex Rins’ ambitions to win the Championship will only drive both men on.

“Both of our riders are very strong title contenders. It also keeps the stability and it is important for us as we know their characteristics. Also, the Crew Chiefs can manage the riders very well. It’s like a family and I don’t want to change it.”

“I have no concern between the riders. Suzuki has never had a number one or two rider. Even when one was the rookie, we didn’t have number one or two so we will continue this attitude. We are good parents and they respect each other, and they help each other. One reason I didn’t take an external person to replace Davide is to keep the team’s atmosphere so I think this committee will be key to keeping the atmosphere.”

“About the satellite team, Davide spoke with several teams about joining Suzuki. I have been involved also but Davide’s leaving has made me busier. Of course, half of building a satellite team is at the track, speaking with teams, and the other half is speaking with the factory. Anyways, I have to manage the things, I haven’t given up, but Davide’s departure makes the situation difficult, it has made me busier but I will continue.”

“About the satellite team, Davide spoke with several teams about joining Suzuki. I have been involved also but Davide’s leaving has made me busier. Of course, half of building a satellite team is at the track, speaking with teams, and the other half is speaking with the factory. Anyways, I have to manage the things, I haven’t given up, but Davide’s departure makes the situation difficult, it has made me busier but I will continue.”

“It is progressing slowly, but step by step.”

Progress was a recurring theme throughout the debrief, particularly when speaking about the GSX-RR, with development occurring somewhat slower than normal due to the engine freeze in place over the winter. Despite having a Championship winning bike that is the envy of the paddock, Sahara knows that improvements can still be found.

“Of course, we are doing development on the GSX-RR, some short and some long term. Our style is to go step by step to improve the bike. Sometimes just small changes make a big difference, in a good way and a bad way, so for that reason we have to keep a careful attitude to improvement.”

“We are trying to always improve the fundamental components of the bike. The one thing we have to improve is the Qualifying time but always the priority is the race result and not the Qualifying result. We do need to be on the front or second row of the grid so we will continue to make the lap time better.”

“I hope Suzuki is the best bike. Sometimes for me, it would be interesting for some other riders to try the Suzuki bike but that can’t happen. Of course, Joan himself improved a lot from his rookie year to second year. Without Joan and Alex, we couldn’t have had such fantastic results last year. Nothing is easy for us, but also the rider is never satisfied with the bike. It is a normal situation for us and every manufacturer. I think we always have to try and improve on the bike and the riders too.”

Improving the already envious GSX-RR, a Championship one-two and a Triple Crown in 2021 all in the wake of the exit of their former Team Manager certainly shows that the Hamamatsu factory is not lacking ambition, but can they pull it off? Only time will tell. 

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