Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shock, horror: Kawasaki to pull out of MotoGP!


For Kawasaki, it's the end of the MotoGP road...

The worldwide economic crisis seems to have claimed one more victim – the Kawasaki MotoGP team. Though there has been no official announcement from Kawasaki, according to various reports circulating on the Web, the Japanese company will not be a part of the 2009 MotoGP season and will disband its MotoGP team with immediate effect.

With poor performances in 2007 and 2008, Kawasaki have been perennial backmarkers in MotoGP, and the ZX-RR has not really been up to the task of taking on the YZR-M1, RC212V and GSV-R. Developing the bike further might have meant investing huge sums of money – something which probably wouldn’t be possible in the current, grim economic scenario.

With Kawasaki pulling out of MotoGP, John Hopkins and Marco Melandri – the two riders who’d signed on to ride for Team Green in 2009 – will be left out in the cold. And since Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki seem to have all their riders in place already, it doesn’t look like the Kawasaki duo will find other MotoGP rides for 2009.

With Honda already having pulled out of F1 and AMA Superbikes, and now with Kawasaki leaving MotoGP, motorsport seems to be in a spot of trouble right now. The FIM mandates a minimum of 18 bikes on the MotoGP starting grid, and with Kawasaki's departure, only 17 bikes will be left in the fray. Will the FIM change its rules? Can Kenny Roberts and/or Ilmor make a surprise comeback to MotoGP? Or will Kawasaki change their minds and stay on in MotoGP after all? Stay tuned for further updates on this one…

Update (9th Jan, 2009): Yes, it's official. Kawasaki have made a formal announcement about pulling out of MotoGP with immediate effect, due to the worldwide economic downturn. Sad day...

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