FIM EWC: What’s next for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team?

After GMT94, FIM Endurance World Championship may lose another of the most iconic teams in the series. This time, we’re talking about Dominique Meliand’s Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who boast the highest number of wins and titles in EWC. The reference team for Suzuki in Endurance is set to face an incredible transfer of power at the end of 2019, when “Le Chef” Meliand will retire, and Suzuki may not support the 15 times Endurance World Champions like before. Rumours have been denied or partly confirmed so far, but the future of S.E.R.T. is definitely uncertain…

TERRIBLE 2017 – A revolution within Suzuki Endurance Racing Team has been expected for a long time. Everything started on 9th March 2017, when their most representative rider, Anthony Delhalle, died following an accident in Nogaro. On the same day as Delhalle’s funeral, Dominique Meliand underwent an important 7-hour cardiovascular surgery. Without Delhalle and Meliand, S.E.R.T. fought for 2016/2017 World Championship title until the grand finale at Suzuka, despite using the older version of Suzuki GSX-R 1000 (they started using new GSX-R 1000 R later, at 2017 Bol d’Or).

THE RETURN OF “LE CHEF” –  “I’m no superhero: “I’ll come back when they believe I’m OK“, said Dominique Meliand then. Meanwhile, who managed the team was crew chief Dominique Hebrard, helped by Pascal Cadiou, Kylian Sauvage, Jean Paul Voisin and Dany Meliand (Dominique’s sister). “Le Chef” was missed very much and his comeback took place at 2018 24 Heures Motos du Mans. He just spent most of the time sitting in the box back then, but in the following events he returned to his usual duties.

WHAT’S NEXT? – Meliand, who will turn 72 on 3rd April, had denied the first rumours about an upcoming transfer of power in Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. Many things were said about the future of the team (the possibilities where retirement or transfer of power from Meliand to another person), but nothing of this had been confirmed and later such rumours had been revealed to be unfounded. However, Dominique Meliand will retire at the end of the year and now S.E.R.T. are searching for another owner, able to manage the team and maintain the relationship with Suzuki. The news has been confirmed and spread by many French media, but nobody knows what’s next for the team. Will S.E.R.T. be supported by Suzuki France even without Dominique Meliand? Will their relationship with Suzuki via Yoshimura continue? Probably, we’ll have to wait until 2019 24 Heures Motos du Mans for these questions to be answered…

THE TEAM’S STOLEN TROPHIES WERE FOUND – In such atmosphere of uncertainty, something good happened for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. Do you remember that twenty trophies of their (including 11 Bol d’Or ones and 8 trophies won at 24 Heures Motos), had been burgled from the headquarters of the team? Well, twelve months later, most of these trophies were found in Nantes by…a fisherman! “These trophies were found by raising a fisherman’s net“, said Meliand to Le Main Libre. “That fisherman knew what had happened to us and so he got in touch with me. Most of those trophies are of course damaged, but to me they’ll always have sentimental value“, said “Le Chef“, who still hopes to find the rest of the loot…


Translated by Alessandro Palma

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