Cresent Suzuki Team Entering WSBK; Several Other Shoes Still to Drop
British Superbike racing team Crescent Suzuki announced it will enter the World Superbike Championship next year, but Suzuki racing fans are perhaps left with even more questions about the 2012 racing season.
Crescent Suzuki will enter two riders on GSX-R1000 superbikes next season, but the team has not named its riders or described the level of support it will receive from Suzuki.
This season, Crescent Suzuki fielded John Hopkins and Jon Kirkham with Hopkins falling short of winning the championship thanks to a photo finish on the season’s final race. Hopkins looks like an obvious choice to stay with the team next year but the American racer has his eyes set on earning a ride in the MotoGP championship. Hopkins is currently in Malaysia for this weekend’s MotoGP race with the Rizla Suzuki team, and his wild card entry is nothing less than an audition for all the other teams hoping to compete in the series in 2012.
Speaking of Rizla Suzuki, the team is still waiting for Suzuki to decide on its plans for 2012. The economic downturn combined with lackluster results reduced Suzuki to a single MotoGP entry this year, and the manufacturer has not indicated whether it will remain in the series next season. Should Suzuki continue to compete in MotoGP, it’s likely the team will stick with its current 800cc engines while other manufacturers move up to 1000cc engines.
The common thread between Crescent Suzuki and Rizla Suzuki is Paul Denning. Denning is the owner of Crescent Suzuki as well as the team manager of the MotoGP squad. Could Suzuki offer the Crescent team fact0ry-level support to make up to Denning, who has been a loyal soldier to Suzuki for several years, for an impending withdrawal from MotoGP?
Meanwhile, there’s Alstare Suzuki which also entered just a single rider this year, Michel Fabrizio. The team wants to continue racing WSBK and says it has sponsors lined up, but the team does not have an agreement with Suzuki for next season. Last month, the team says Suzuki would only offer to let the team use their current racebikes with little in the way of development.
Back to Crescent Suzuki and its 2012 riders: the British team will likely want a local rider to appease sponsors. Hopkins’ parents are English and the team was eager to promote Hopper’s British heritage. If Hopkins stays with the team, Crescent Suzuki will likely pair him with a British racer. But if he doesn’t, the team will need an experienced racer with proven race talent and preferably familiar with the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
By the way, Tommy Hayden’s still looking for a ride. Just saying.