From Cinderella to the queen of MotoGP, the Suzuki fairy tale came true last year thanks to the title won by Mir. Only two bikes on the track which, however, made it possible to have an agile, reactive and above all cohesive structure. So, even without the pharaonic budgets of other rivals, it was the Hamamatsu manufacturer that came good in the most important two-wheel championship. It was also thanks to Davide Brivio, who had started the project virtually from scratch. Now that the Italian manager has moved to Formula 1, control of the team is in the hands of Shinici Sahara.
Judging from what happened in the first race in Qatar, Suzuki doesn't seem to have lost his spirit…
"The strangest thing is that there was nothing strange - smiles Sahara - I thought that without Davide we might have struggled, that there would have been a bit of confusion, but in the end it didn't happen. I really appreciated Davide's work, he brought the team to a high level and everyone managed to compensate for his absence more than well. "
How much has your work changed without Brivio?
“In the past few years I was coming to one race out of three, I think now I will always have to be there for the management. So I'll have to do some remote work for Japan, to control development, and I think it's easier to do it from the circuits ”.
One of Suzuki's strengths in recent years has been cohesion within the team.
"The atmosphere in the garage is the same if not even better. Perhaps because after Davide's departure everyone thought they had to be even more united, to increase cooperation. Everyone tells me that ours is the most ‘family’ team, but I have only worked for Suzuki and it’s all normal for me (laughs) ”.
Is it difficult to manage two riders of the calibre of Mir and Rins?
“The teammate is the first rival to beat, so they fight on the track, but as a matter of our policy we share our information and this makes Suzuki as strong as possible. My hope is to have some problems at the end of the season, because it will mean that they will both be fighting for the title ”.
Speaking of the first race, we didn't expect such a competitive Mir after practice. Was he hiding?
“In tests and practice we weren't in a perfect situation, we were missing something very small and he found the solution on Sunday in the warm-up and everything immediately changed”.
What did you think when you saw the two Ducatis overtake him after the last corner?
“Our performances are the result of the combination of bike and rider and what took us to second place until very close to the finish. Maybe Joan braked too much at the last corner, he went wide, and we lost the podium. After the race I started thinking about what would have happened if he had done better in that last corner, but I immediately stopped because we have to focus on the next race. "
Ducati impressed by reaching 362.4 km/h, do you think these speeds are becoming too dangerous?
“At Mugello it will be even more complicated, but here in Losail I don't see any dangers. In racing, of course, there are accidents, but most of them happen in corners ”.
Speaking of speed, you tried the 2022 engine in tests. Is horsepower the only thing the Suzuki GSX-RR is lacking?
“Horsepower is always lacking (laughs). In the past, during development, we reached higher power but then when we had to choose which engine to use we favoured rideability. The best features of our bike are its cornering speed and nimbleness, for this reason we did not choose thinking only of pure power. We have to consider what the best package is and I don't think we will change our thinking for next season. So we want to maintain the rideability of our bike by improving the maximum speed, but without upsetting the character of our bike ".
Are you working on the holeshot device that also lowers the front of the bike?
“We are accumulating experience on this system, we already have the one at the rear, and it seems to be very good. Our drivers usually make good starts, for now we are not in a hurry, we will evaluate calmly ”.
Why does Suzuki struggle so hard on the flying lap?
“If you find out the reason, tell me! (laughs) For us the most important thing is the final position in the race and our bike manages the tires very well. It is true that something is missing on the flying lap, we will try to improve over the course of the year. "
For many years there has been talk of a satellite team for Suzuki, will we see one in 2022?
“I would like to have it for various reasons: we would have information from a greater number of riders, it would be useful from a promotional point of view and also to develop young riders. I think we should have it, but it's not that simple from a financial point of view and also from a human resources point of view. At the moment I'm explaining why we need it to Suzuki top management”.
So will we talk about it again for 2023?
"Right now I can't say whether we will do it or not in 2022, but time has not run out yet."
Thinking about this season, who is Suzuki's most dangerous rival?
“They all are, including Aprilia. KTM struggled here but this is not the best track for them, we will see them again on other circuits ”.
After winning the title last year, what is the goal for 2021?
“Win it again and be able to finish first and second in the championship with our riders. This would be ideal, but I try to forget it and only think about one race at a time, if we get good results the rest will come automatically. "