A few days after the news broke re Davide Brivio’s departure from the Suzuki team, MotoGP Project Leader Shinichi Sahara is interviewed by the Suzuki website and talks about the team’s plans for 2021 and a possible satellite team for 2022.
“News of Davide’s departure shocked us”
Sahara starts the interview by talking about Brivio’s decision, how it was taken by the team, and how the plans for 2021 will now change with a title to defend.
“It came as shocking news - begins the MotoGP Project Leader - I very much appreciate what Davide’s done since coming to Suzuki. He arrived early on, soon after the project was born, and he was able to develop this and build a top team. We are affected of course, but I don’t think we’ll lose the way without him, because we’ve always viewed things in the same way and agreed on the direction to take. We also have expert staff to help us manage everything. I fully trust in the team structure that we have and everyone else who has contributed to building this”.
He then adds: “When Davide told the team, we were all shocked of course. But we soon focused on the next steps we need to take together. We’ll be more united than ever because we all love this brand and we’ll give 150% to tackle the new challenges in the best way.”
What impact will this situation have on the team? “In my opinion, it shouldn’t impact on anything moving forward - explains Sahara - We will work as we know how, and even harder than we did before winning the championship. Our attitude hasn’t changed and we’ll fight for the title once more with our strong riders, Mir and Rins”.
As for the riders, the Japanese comments: “This won’t affect our riders’ ability to fight for the title. We are already champions and have two young and talented riders. They know how to tackle problems or tough situations and manage the pressure. I’m not at all worried in this regard. They are both real professionals and ready for the 2021 championship”.
“We will find a solution internally”
The MotoGP Project Leader then outlines plans for the team, starting with who will replace Davide Brivio as team manager. “It’s always important to optimise the team structure in order to obtain the best possible performance from each team member, and this is always true, even without Davide’s departure. But I think everyone’s quite professional and we have the know-how to move forward in the best possible way”.
“I think we can manage the situation with the people inside Suzuki, and that’s the best way for us - adds Sahara, providing a clue as to the next team manager – We know who we are, how we work, how we interact and what we need. We’re not looking externally right now, we’ll try to manage it by ourselves”.
Riders and development
As for the 2021 season, the Project Leader explains the focus of GSX-RR development.
“As we’ve done in the past, we’re looking to improve all the performance areas of our bike without losing the good balance. We’ll probably need to aim for better grid positions without losing any performance over race distance”.
It will also be important to manage the internal rivalry between Mir and Rins, but Sahara doesn’t seem too worried. “We need to avoid any serious mistakes in terms of development direction with the various data collected from our riders with their different high-level riding styles – he explains – They know the advantages of sharing data as it helps make the bike more competitive for them both”.
Will we see a new and improved Joan in 2021? “He’s still young and is about to begin only his third season with us, so there’s still room to understand the bike and the team and improve. I imagine that, having won the championship, he’s already gained in maturity and knows how to deal with pressure”, comments the Suzuki Project Leader, keen to see how the world champion will be motivated by his team-mate.
“We’ll see if Rins becomes stronger too, battling with his team-mate. Last year he was in great shape but then he unfortunately got hurt, so this really conditioned his performance”, adds Sahara in reference to number 42.
“We’re considering various options for the satellite team”
In light of last year’s results, the Hamamatsu manufacturer looks to the future with confidence, despite a freezing of development for 2021.
“From an engineering standpoint, we always have new ideas with which to improve the bike. Fortunately our package wasn’t bad in 2020, so we’ll carefully develop the areas in which we’re allowed to work. In any case, you never know how the new rules will affect things, but I think it’s the same for all the manufacturers. The rules are the same for everyone, so we all have to ensure fair play”, adds Sahara, who closes by touching on the possibility of a satellite team: “We’re still considering what might be the best solution. We might have more information during the season”.
Translated by Heather Watson