Interesting castling in the MotoGP paddock: Yamaha Factory Racing has signed a contract with one of the engineers of the Suzuki GSX-RR project, Tom O’Kane. The Irishman has been working for Hamamatsu since 2005 and did not leave the factory team even after Suzuki temporarily left the Big Prizes. But now it’s time to change the situation.
Suzuki withdraws from the MotoGP and World Endurance World Championships, and closes its biggest racing projects, leaving support in MotoAmerica and AMA Supercross. But the path of the Japanese factory is determined – the costs of motorsport are no longer necessary for him!
The close-knit team that Davide Brivio gathered in Team Suzuki Ecstar began to run away to other MotoGP projects. The team’s pilot Joan Mir will move to Repsol Honda and his partner Alex Rins – to LCR Honda. Team boss Alex Rins – Manuel Caso has already signed for next year with Aprilia, he is moving to the garage of Maverick Vinales. Well, the boss of the Ruins – Manuel Caso team is expected at Gresini Racing, he will work with Fabio Di Gianantonio. Some of Suzuki’s engineers will scatter to other teams.
But the key figure of the project – O’Kane will be in the clutches of Yamaha. The Irishman is a true veteran of the Suzuki racing project, he worked at Rizla Suzuki and improved the Suzuki GSV-R prototype, with a V-shaped engine, and then participated in the creation of a fundamentally new GSX-RR prototype from scratch. After the successful testing and commissioning of the project, he was the head of the Suzuki test team and the direct boss of Sylvain Guintoli.
Thomas O’Kane got into the Suzuki factory project from Kenny Roberts’ team, where he participated in the development of Proton KR3 and KR5 projects together with Warren Willing and Tom Walkinshaw. Although Proton failed as the victorious prototype of MotoGP, it could become a real monument to the amazing capabilities of private teams consisting of engineering enthusiasts struggling with the incredible power of Japanese factory projects at the turn of the XX and XXI centuries. Actually, none of the Proton developers were left without work after the project was closed in 2005!
O’Kane’s invitation to Yamaha once again confirms Iwata’s desire to change the situation in his racing department, where the Japanese have been driving undividedly for the last 10 years. Until 2010, Yamaha had vision and courage, which then, unfortunately, were lost.