When Ecstar Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone finished on the podium at Aragon – his third of the year – it spelled a welcome end to the Japanese factory’s special status as a concession team.
Added to team-mate Alex Rins’s two podium finishes this year, it means that the same restrictions – a freeze on engine development, restricted engine numbers (from nine to seven) and a ban on extra-curricular testing – will apply to Suzuki as to the other main factory teams: Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
Team boss Davide Brivio welcomed the new situation.
“It was our target,” he said. “We were hoping we could get back to good competitiveness. We want to fight with the same conditions as everybody else.”
It meant they had to be sure to get their engine design right before the start of the season, he continued; but added that the loss of the right to unrestricted testing with factory riders was less of a burden, since “with the current schedule there is very little time to test anyway.”
Suzuki had already lost the concessions after Maverick Vinales’s successes in 2016; but a mis-step in engine design led to dire results in 2017, and the other manufacturers voted to return their concessions for 2018.
For 2019, only KTM and Aprilia will be classed as Concession Teams.
By Michael Scott