Suzuki struggling in early part of MotoGP season

While Yamaha is rolling and Honda is eyeing this weekend’s Red Bull of the Americas Grand Prix as its season breakout, Suzuki has been noticeably absent from the upper half of the MotoGP standings.

Through two of the 18 stops on the tour, Suzuki drivers Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone are 16th and 22nd, respectively, heading into the race at Circuit of the Americas. Rins has seven points and Iannone is scoreless. Rins is riding with a broken ankle he suffered in a motorcycle accident the week between the Qatar and Argentina races.

Former world champion Kevin Schwantz, an Austinite who does some promotional work for Suzuki, has a theory about the manufacturer’s struggles.

“I think Suzuki was going off how good they were last year, figured they didn’t have to change much, just fine tune the new riders and they’d improve,” Schwantz said. “Maybe they just didn’t do all the work they should have this offseason. They find themselves a little behind right now.

“It’s pretty disappointing because I think the bike is good enough that it should consistently be scoring points.”

In fairness, Suzuki lost young gun Maverick Vinales, fourth in the 2016 standings, to Yamaha. Vinales has won both MotoGP races this year. Aleix Espargaro, 11th last year while with Suzuki, jumped to Aprilia and is 12th in the early going of the 2017 season.

Moto2 update: Franco Morbidelli has dominated Moto2, winning both races. Thomas Luthi and Miguel Oliveira also have looked formidable. Oliveira, the Portuguese rider, gave the new KTM intermediate class chassis its first podium finish in Argentina, and COTA might set up well for him.

Moto3 update: In all three series, one man has won both races in 2017. Joan Mir of Spain has the maximum 50 points in Moto3 while John McPhee of the GB Team is in pursuit with 40. Enea Bastianini, last year’s series runner-up, and Nicolo Bulega, the junior world champ, are two riders who haven’t found their stride yet, but they like the Austin track. Both posted top-10 finishes at COTA last year.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Who is Jabrill Peppers? 5 things to know about the Cleveland Browns safety

Jabrill Peppers is a rookie on the Cleveland Browns. Peppers spent his collegiate years with the Michigan Wolverines and after playing in only three games his freshman season, the do-it-all athlete was a member of two 10-win teams in 2015 and 2016. Now he’s a starting safety for the Browns. It’s hard to be more sought-after...
Iowa football: The one stop that got away on Penn State’s game-winning touchdown

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When Akrum Wadley’s 35-yard touchdown run put Iowa up 19-15 in the fourth quarter, linebacker Josey Jewell delivered a message to the defense: one more stop. It’s all the Hawkeyes needed to knock off No. 4 Penn State on Saturday. The only thing standing in the way was 1 minute, 36 seconds...
2018 NFL mock draft: Projecting the first round (September 24, 2017)

2018 NFL mock drafts are taking shape as the 2017 college football and NFL seasons roll on. Quarterbacks are the talk of the draft early on, though most of the draft analysts’ favorites haven’t played too much college football yet. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are three signal...
Ohio State DBs have new challenge: ‘Terrible’ pass-interference penalties

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s hard to be too concerned after a 54-21 win that could have been a much-bigger margin, but Ohio State’s defensive backs will hear about the penalties they racked up during an otherwise productive day. Pass defense is already a sensitive issue around Columbus given the standard of previous...
Tennessee football report card: No. 7 was the right answer on offense and defense

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s 17-13 win against UMass on Saturday was no thing of beauty, with both teams struggling to execute throughout the action. The Vols (3-1) lost all offensive continuity in the second half at Neyland Stadium, switching out quarterbacks without much success against the Minutemen (0-5). Tennessee...
More Stories