(Reuters) -Former world champions Suzuki intend to leave MotoGP at the end of this year and are in talks with promoters Dorna about the possibility of doing so, the Japanese manufacturer said on Thursday.
Suzuki said in a statement ahead of the French Grand Prix that the move was for financial reasons and it was also considering ending other racing activities.
“Unfortunately, the current economic situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to drastically decrease racing related costs,” it said.
Suzuki added that it wanted “to use all its economical and human resources in developing new technologies”.
Dorna said last week it had contacted Suzuki to remind the manufacturer it could not take a unilateral decision under the terms of the contract with MotoGP.
Suzuki Motor Corporation only last year renewed its involvement in the MotoGP championship in a deal running until the 2026 season.
The manufacturer has quit MotoGP before, leaving the premier class after the 2011 season due to economic recession and a stronger Japanese yen. It made a full return in 2015.
The factory team won both championships in 2020 when Spaniard Joan Mir won his maiden title in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mir said he was angry at the decision and his manager was talking to Honda among others.
“We were in talks with Suzuki before everything happened and now, for sure, my manager will have more work than he expected,” he added.
“He is speaking with Honda, with different manufacturers to try to fit my future outside Suzuki.”
Team mate and compatriot Alex Rins, who had planned to continue with Suzuki, said the news would hit other team members hard.
“In the end, I can find something for the next year I think but for them (the mechanics) it’s more difficult. I feel very sorry, they are like a family for me,” he added.
Suzuki also won multiple championships in the top category over the decades since the 1970s with Britain’s Barry Sheene, Italians Marco Lucchinelli and Franco Uncini and Americans Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr.
Team leader Davide Brivio left before the start of the 2021 season to join the Alpine Formula One team as their racing director.
Suzuki project leader Shinichi Sahara said at the time that Brivio’s departure was “shocking news” and a major blow to the Japanese manufacturer.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)