Former Valentino Rossi team manager Davide Brivio will head Suzuki's return to MotoGP in 2014, according to Italian media.
Brivio, a former Yamaha WSBK mechanic who actually ran the Yamaha squad in the days when rider Nori Haga lost his shot at the world championship in 2000 because of testing positive for ephedrine, was a key figure on Rossi's side of the garage during The Doctor's first tenure with Yamaha. For one period of time Brivio was both Rossi's manager and the team manager of the Yamaha team, which certainly must have made contract negotiations quick. Brivio left Yamaha when Rossi jumped ship to Ducati after the 2010 season. Since then, Brivio has served as Rossi's personal manager and helped to oversee Rossi's merchandise operation.
Italian media also reported the new Suzuki team will be based in Italy, which is another new wrinkle.
Last week, Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta said no new grid slot would be created for Suzuki in 2014, forcing the team to ally with an existing outfit. Many media members and paddock observers speculated that Aspar, based in Spain, was the leading candidate to form links with Suzuki.
Gresini is the only existing MotoGP satellite team based in Italy, but it has used Honda machinery exclusively since its debut in 1997.
A Brivio-led Suzuki team is certain to spawn rumors of a reunion with Rossi, especially if The Doctor's return to Yamaha is unsuccessful. Rossi is under contract with Yamaha through 2014, so it will be interesting to see if either of the two new Suzuki riders will receive a one-year deal for 2014, leaving a spot open for Rossi in 2015.
Other riders with interest in a Suzuki seat will be Cal Crutchlow, who has been transparent about his lust for a factory ride; Ben Spies, who won three AMA Superbike titles for Suzuki and made his MotoGP debut as a wild card for the manufacturer in 2009; and Randy De Puniet, who reportedly has signed as a test rider for the new GSX-R this season.