Suzuki MotoGP – What’s new is old again

Posted on 15 Nov, 2014 by Scott Jones
Suzuki umbrella girl Valencia 2014

Please click on the above image to view it larger.

The return of Suzuki as a MotoGP factory team was one of the favorite stories at the Valencia round. In response to the Suzuki wild card appearance, many people posted images and welcoming words on Instagram, Twitter and other social media. Indeed, the Blue Team was a very pleasing sight in the paddock and pit lane.

Suzuki pit box Valencia 2014While, at the end of a long season, other teams’ garages were full of nicked tools and grease stains, the Suzuki box was bright and shiny. Even the team members’ matching footwear looked brand spanking new.

I for one had the feeling that Suzuki was not only back, but intending to shed their former ignominy of the seasons in Rizla blue (the mini-gallery below probably has some images from this period). I remember talented riders on Suzuki machines, never in contention in the dry, occasionally grabbing some glory when it rained. Remember a frustrated John Hopkins kicking his failed Suzuki at Losail?

Suzuki MotoGP rear view cameraBut that was the past! This was the NEW Suzuki, ready to bring it to MotoGP and be successful. The new bike looked good, with some nice details such as the rear view camera mount shown above.

While the Suzuki bikes and garage decor weren’t quite the same shade of blue as when sponsored by Rizla in seasons past, Suzuki history came flooding back when their umbrella girl appeared in pit lane. Though not dressed in the trademark cop-theme miniskirt with hand-cuffs, she nevertheless donned a black cap that tied the new Suzuki to the old one. Attractive though she was, her appearance in that hat was like seeing the Ghost of MotoGP Past.

I don’t often photograph the umbrella ladies, as I’m more about the motorcycle racing than how sex appeal is used to attract some portions of the audience. But that hat really sank my hopes. It said to me, It’s shiny on the outside, but on the inside it’s the same old Suzuki.

Is it silly of me to judge the factory’s effort and commitment based on an umbrella girl’s hat? Certainly. What does that hat have to do with the level of R&D going into developing the bike? Or the level of riders the team has hired? Or, more to the point, what does the hat have to do with the level of marketing/sponsorship savvy of the new Suzuki? Probably nothing at all.

Then again, it could be a sign that the thinking at Suzuki hasn’t changed much, that the same people who (according to many paddock rumors) nearly gave away main sponsorship standing to Rizla are still in charge. It could be a sign that Suzuki still thinks of itself as a team that hasn’t been a threat to win the title since 2000, and that beating Honda and Yamaha on equal terms isn’t a realistic expectation.

I decided at the time it was just a hat, and that I was probably making way too much of it. Then I noticed the mirrored sunglasses. D’oh!

Blue is Suzuki’s color, and the current paint scheme is different enough from Rizla blue to shed those memories. But dressing your umbrella girl up like the days of old was a mistake. Suzuki should be leaving its past behind as it moves toward a new era of competitiveness, not dragging its former mid-pack identity into the present.

©2014 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved

Camera Info: Nikon D4 with Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8

[mgallery keyword=”Suzuki”]

 

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