In the off-road ranks out west, Gary Sutherlin made for a feel good story by taking his Purvines Racing/DA8 Yamaha to both the WORCS and AMA National Hare and Hound Championships in 2017. Gary's dream season ended abruptly, though, when the Purvines team decided to close shop, leaving Gary with two titles but no ride for 2018.
Now Suzuki has stepped back into the off-road game they used to rule, putting Sutherlin on an RMX450Z (the brand's off-road focused 450) to defend his titles.
“We are very excited at the opportunity to work with Gary this coming season. He has always impressed me with his work ethic, both on and off the bike. I know he’s the perfect fit to the growing RM Army community and gives Suzuki off-road racing fans a yellow bike to cheer for!” said Chris Wheeler, motocross racing manager, in a Suzuki press release.
“I’m extremely excited to partner with Suzuki for 2018 and race the RMX450Z. Being the face of Suzuki’s RM Army off-road racing is an opportunity I’m truly grateful for. I can’t wait to defend the number one plate and help develop the RMX450Z,” says Sutherlin.
Sutherlin’s first race aboard the 2018 Suzuki RMX450Z will be at round one of the AMA District 37 Big 6 GP Series on January 12-14 in Adelanto, California.
There was a time when Suzuki dominated the pro off-road ranks, putting together powerhouse factory teams and winning titles in GNCC, WORCS, National Enduro, and more, with riders like Rodney Smith, Randy Hawkins, Mike Kiedrowski, Steve Hatch, and more. Josh Strang won the 2010 GNCC Championship for the brand, but the entire Team Suzuki off-road unit folded at the end of 2011.
Along with its reentry into the 250 class of professional motocross and supercross, and a renewed focus on amateur racing via the RM Army program, Suzuki continues to rebuild its U.S. racing efforts.