Suzuki rejected "defending champions” mentality in 2021

Suzuki boss Shinichi Sahara says his team took the decision to come into the 2021 MotoGP season to “not be defending champions” and instead “be challengers again”.

Suzuki rejected "defending champions” mentality in 2021

Joan Mir guided Suzuki to its first MotoGP title since 2000 last year, with the Japanese marque also winning the teams’ championship.

But its title defence was difficult, with Suzuki coming away from 2021 without a win and Mir only able to score six podiums across 18 races due to the GSX-RR’s lack of development compared to the 2020 bike.

Reflecting on Suzuki’s 2021 season, Sahara said: “We achieved the riders’ title last year and teams’ title also.

“Compared to this, it has been very difficult, a very tough season for us this year.

“Before starting this season we decided not to be defending champions, we decided to be challengers again to achieve the top position of each race.

“But as a result, we had some difficult moments in the middle of the season and also the first half of the season.

“Fortunately we had two strong riders still. Joan is very consistent still and has speed.

“We need to have something small to achieve more speeds and results.

“As everyone knows, the Suzuki sometimes struggles for qualifying results. It costs our race results, so it’s very difficult."

Shinichi Sahara, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Shinichi Sahara, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Suzuki underwent a major management reshuffle ahead of the 2021 season when talismanic team manager Davide Brivio quit to join Alpine in Formula 1.

Project leader Sahara became the de facto team manager, with Suzuki electing against a direct replacement for Brivio and instead employing a seven-person management committee.

Sahara admits his new role in 2021 was overwhelming for him and is in the process of finding a replacement for Brivio – though last month ruled out the Italian making a return.

“My new role as a team manager, it was way too much for me,” Sahara said. “It’s overflowing. But everything was done correctly with support from team members.

“So, I am very satisfied in that area. I’m trying to make a new structure for next year, to invite a new team manager for next year. This is in the final stages to fix.”

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