Livio Suppo wore Suzuki colors for the last time in the paddock yesterday. The Hamamatsu manufacturer closed the garage doors for the final time, but at least they did it in a way that will undoubtedly go down in history, by winning the last race of the season. A bitter sweet goodbye, but the party of the guys in the garage was fantastic and nothing different could be expected from a team that has always given more than a smile since entering the paddock.
We caught up with Suppo on Sunday evening, while the party was still going on in the garage, to talk with him about this experience which was undoubtedly intense and which culminated among other things with the day of Ducati's victory in the world championship, exactly 15 years after Stoner’s triumph of which Suppo himself was one of those responsible.
"There could have been no better way to leave this paddock - Suppo told us - In reality my dream would have been to finish first and second in Valencia. We did first and sixth, but we can't complain. To win two of the last three races knowing that we were about to retire is something unique I think. First of all because it’s very rare that a manufacturer that is so competitive decides to retire from racing, second because even assuming that the bike was fast and that the riders and team were in good shape, it was not easy to keep the motivation and the concentration high to do the season finale that Alex did, so a big thank you to him and to all the guys who have been truly commendable".
Mir, on the other hand, was not at his peak in 2022.
"I am very disappointed that instead for Joan this was a season below his potential, but unfortunately there are seasons when things go wrong. For him it was like that, but Alex I must say that he was really good and I'm happy that he begins his new adventure with this enormous boost. For the personal ego of a rider, a season finale like this is the best. I am also happy for Lucio Cecchinello who will find himself a motivated and strong rider. Good luck to both".
What will happen to these magnificent GSX-RRs now? Is there a chance that they will really be put under a crusher or will they be saved?
"Unfortunately, it is not a possibility, but a certainty. A couple of these bikes will end up in some museum, others will be crushed, along with spare parts and everything. All the Japanese manufacturers do it for a matter of taxes, because otherwise there would be assets on which to pay taxes. As they are no longer usable, they make this choice of always crushing everything ".
Do you have a bitter taste in your mouth for not being able to do everything you wanted with Suzuki?
"I liked the idea of being able to develop a winning project, just like Suzuki already was as we saw today. We still had so many things to invent, we didn't create a satellite team, something that I wanted to do, I wanted to make a team in Moto2 to help riders grow. There were a lot of things to do, there was a need to convince the Japanese to work more on aerodynamics and I would have liked to develop this in collaboration with Dallara that I had the honour of meeting. I had a lot of ideas that I would have liked to try to implement ".
What are you going to do now?
"I have said a few times that if I had to find some rider along the way with whom I feel particularly in tune, maybe I wouldn't mind helping him. I wouldn't want to call myself a rider/manager, but rather act as a mentor to help some guy with my experience. But I'm not sure I'll do it, it will depend on a lot of things. For now I'll have a period of vacation, the last few months have been busy and then go back to following my bicycle company ".
You experienced Ducati's last world championship win in the garage.
"Yes, it was funny to experience it with other colours. When Alex was in the lead, I thought I would be happy to see Pecco win also thanks to Rins' victory, so we also contributed a little. It gives me great pleasure for Ducati, there are a lot of guys I know well, the first is Gabarrini who was also there when we won in 2007 and then I also had him in Honda with Stoner in 2011. I'm fond of him and many others. I'm really happy for them, after some difficult years they have certainly managed, thanks to Gigi, to reform a group and make a bike that is certainly the best Ducati there has ever been, but they had been close for a few years. They also had the misfortune to meet on their path a phenomenon like Marquez at the top of his career, but let's say they had deserved this title from a technical point of view for some years. Pecco was very good, especially in recovering from a rather disastrous start to the season. It's nice to think that if sport can give lessons, if we think of Alex with Suzuki today and Pecco, they are two fine examples of how important it is to never give up, always believe in it and give your all to the end ".
Perhaps the nicest team in the paddock is leaving…
"Yes that’s the way it is, but this is certainly not my merit. It is a team that was born like this, probably also the fact that it has never been one of the big names has helped. When you are an outsider, you are naturally nicer. Suzuki's group of people is very well amalgamated, with incredible empathy and I experienced this first. When I arrived in Qatar, they made me feel immediately at home. I will never stop thanking them, because this was a short experience, shorter than expected, but absolutely fantastic ".