Livio Suppo has always had a taste for the dramatic and now exits like a seasoned actor. He has today announced that he will leave the Honda factory team, of which he has been the first non-Japanese team principal since 2010, and the world of MotoGP. During his career, he has won 5 rider’s titles and 6 manufacturer’s titles. He started out in 125, with the Playtime team and Marco Melandri, before moving on to 250 with Ukawa and then MotoGP with Ducati, as project leader.
“I’ve been in this paddock for 22 years and it’s given me so much – he explains – This is a decision that will change my life. I still had a year on my contract with HRC, but this is the right time to go. Everything’s under control for next year and they’ll have time to make arrangements, hence my premature departure”.
Why have you taken this decision Livio?
“I wanted to make a change. Leaving while at the top, after a season like this one, in which we’ve won everything, is not easy but i feel I’ve made the right decision. I want to dedicate more time to myself and my family, after so many years I’ve missed all those weekends spent away”.
Would your decision have been different it it weren’t for your family?
“This job is a drug, but if I were single I may well have left before now. I’ve always gone with my gut when making decision, I felt it was time to change every if I didn’t know what I’d do afterwards. I’m proud of what I’ve done in HRC but my batteries are drained and I want to recharge them”.
Is this a definitive goodbye to MotoGP?
“Never say never, but right now I don’t think I’ll return to this world”.
What are your plans?
“I need a break, to do something different, I already have a few ideas. I really like bicycles (he’s involved with the Thok company that produces electric mountain bikes) and will be dedicating myself to that world”.
Looking back at your career, what was the highlight?
“The 2007 title with Ducati, that was something special. I’d pushed to get us into MotoGP and to move to Bridgestone tyres, so I really felt like that project was mine”.
A HRC memory on the other hand?
“When I received my business cards with that logo it was really emotional. HRC has always been a reference for me, as a boy I would put their stickers on my bike in the hope I’d go faster (he laughs). Nakamoto wanted me, I was the first non-Japanese team principal and I leave with more good memories than bad”.
Now they will need to replace you, deciding over the winter, will you advise them?
“I’m not in that position, it’s no longer my right to influence their future”.
You’ve worked with Ducati and Honda, what are the differences?
“they are two ‘racing companies’ and team members are mainly European, so there are not so many differences. When I was in Ducati, one of our advantages was the speed with which we made decisions, all it took was a chat with Preziosi and Domenicali. But HRC is also quite streamlined in its structure”.
You were there for both Stoner and Marquez’s triumphs, if you had to choose one?
“Marc without a doubt, because working with him is a pleasure. Casey has immense talent, Marquez’s talent is similar but he is special. We signed the first contract in 2011, I thought that once he was in MotoGP, with money and fame, he would change. But he stayed exactly the same, I said that to him again today, that’s the aspect I appreciate most about him, more than his results”.
Will you stay for tomorrow’s testing?
“Of course, I want to see Morbidelli’s debut with the Honda!”.