MotoGP, Shinichi Sahara (Suzuki): “We want to win everything”

he Project Leader of the Suzuki MotoGP team talks about the upcoming season, also commenting on the future without Davide Brivio. Will there be a new team manager?

Suzuki is preparing to live next season as outgoing MotoGP champions. A great responsibility, but not the only one given the shocks at the beginning of the year due to the farewell of Davide Brivio. The Hamamatsu house will have to account for a heavy absence given the work done by the team manager in recent years, but in Japan, they seem to have clear ideas about it. The project leader, Shinichi Sahara, looks to the future with optimism, ranging on various themes, but sure that there will be many things to do.

One of the fundamental aspects is clearly development: “The key is to maintain the balance of the bikeSahara begins – and this is the priority“. In addition to this, the result obviously counts: “Another priority is clearly how we will finish in the race and for this we will also need to do better in qualifying“. Among the leading figures for the evolution of Suzuki is Sylvain Guintoli:He is very important for us, his comments are always very precise, as well as being strong and constant. Last year he couldn’t try much because of Covid-19, but we also have a second test rider in Japan which gives us more opportunities to improve our bike,”


In 2021 they will have to defend the title, but Sahara prefers to define himself in another way: “We want to think of it as a new challenge to win the title, not to defend it”. A challenge that does not scare him, regardless of the resources available: “The engineers have a very high level and we must also look at the costs. The budget will always have some limits, if we had more we could try more things, but we also need to avoid everything unnecessary. This is part of my job: I always ask my boss to increase the budget, but at the same time I try to work with what I have.”

Both Joan (Mir) and Alex (Rins) are candidates for the title,” continues Sahara. “We have to maintain the stability of the whole structure, including the pilots. At the same time, our technical leaders manage to manage our riders very well. The combination of drivers, technical leaders and mechanics is perfect; we are like a family. I don’t want to change it”. The goal is very clear: “We want to win and finish first and second, winning the drivers ‘and constructors’ titles. It won’t be easy, but I like this challenge!”. Goals grow, responsibilities grow and pressure rises: “We will hear more, this is a sure thing!”

There is certainly also that there will not be a number 1 and a number 2: “We never had them in Suzuki, they both start on equal terms. Even in the years in which Rins and Mir were rookies, there was no hierarchy among the riders.” A philosophy that paid off: “We want to continue in this way and with this balance. Both drivers respect and help each other, so I want this climate and atmosphere to remain intact within the team!”


Then there is the question of the satellite team: “Davide Brivio was the main person to talk to the various teams. Clearly, I was also involved in this process. He made things easier since half of the work was done on the track and the other half in the factory“. However, these are not words of surrender: “Brivio’s farewell has changed many things, but we are not giving up. Of course, his departure has made me busier making things a little more complicated, but our goals don’t change.”

We are not just talking about this. There are other things to discuss at the same time”, continues the Suzuki project leader. “Obviously the satellite team issue matters to us and we are progressing step by step on this aspect. We are talking to different teams, but we need to be patient”. After 2020 Suzuki is definitely tempting: “I don’t know if we are the best bike, I hope so. It would be interesting for other riders to try it, but obviously you can’t. What is certain is that without Alex and Joan we would not have been able to obtain such beautiful results”. The best bike label doesn’t like it. “We don’t want to be the best, but we always try to have something to improve on. You don’t need to be perfect.


Speaking instead of Davide Brivio‘s absence, one wonders who will take his place. But for the moment there does not seem to be a single figure, as explained a month ago. “There will be a small group that will manage everything. Maybe in the future someone will be promoted and will be team manager – continues Sahara, but at the moment the whole group has a great opportunity to learn this role”. Total trust in his boys: “All the members are of the highest level. Maybe someone will be promoted … but not me!

Shinichi is convinced that in this way the team will be more compact: “Many people will be able to compensate for Brivio’s departure given the high level of the boys. Now communication will be more direct, without filters, I think it will make us all more united. We will be able to overcome difficult situations together“. Sahara is also asked what the most complicated part of working as a team manager was. But the answer is not immediate: “There are so many things he has to deal with. I couldn’t tell you which is the most difficult.


We go back to talking about the small group ‘in command’: “I’m happy with the people involved. There will be me (Project Leader), Ken Kawauchi (Technical Manager), Frankie Carchedi (Joan Mir’s chief engineer). And also José Manuel Cazeaux (Alex’s chief engineer Rins), Alberto Gomez (Marketing and Communication Manager), Mitia Dotta (Team Coordinator) and Roberto Brivio (Team Coordinator). And case by case we will also discuss it with others“. But will they also consider an external person in the future? “Right now I can’t imagine if it’s necessary or not. In case we have to promote someone inside the team. We will have to look for another figure to fill the gap, but we’ll see.

One wonders if Sahara would like to see the number 1 on the fairing of world champion Joan Mir.The choice is yours, he has to do what he feels like,” Sahara admits. “Any number he chooses will be fine, the important thing is that he is happy with his decision“.


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