Kawasaki confirms its exit from MotoGP
|By Matt Beer
||Friday, January 9th 2009, 06:45 GMT
Kawasaki has officially confirmed that it will withdraw its works team from MotoGP with immediate effect.
News of the Japanese manufacturer's departure had already leaked out shortly after Christmas, but there had been suggestions that the company might be reconsidering its decision after an anticipated official statement failed to appear on Monday.
However, following a meeting of the MotoGP manufacturers in Japan, Kawasaki has now confirmed its departure.
"We took the final decision not to continue in MotoGP yesterday," Kawasaki's Katsuhiro Sato told the Reuters news agency. "It is something we have been considering since mid-December."
Kawasaki blamed the global economic downturn for its decision.
"Amid quickly changing business environment, Kawasaki has been promptly taking countermeasures to cope with the situation," said a team statement.
"As the world economy is not likely to recover in a short period due to the major impact of the financial crisis, Kawasaki decided to suspend its MotoGP racing activities from 2009 season onward and reallocate management resources more efficiently.
"Kawasaki will continue racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles as well as supporting general race-oriented customers.
"Kawasaki would like to thank all the fans and all those who have forwarded us great help.
"Mr.Yoshio Kawamura, the Managing Director of Kawasaki Motors Racing B.V. deeply appreciates the contribution and the dedication brought by staff members of the MotoGP team."
The team's departure leaves their 2009 riders John Hopkins and Marco Melandri looking for new employment, although efforts are already underway to place the former factory bikes with leading 125cc and 250cc team Aspar, who had come close to a satellite Kawasaki MotoGP deal last autumn.
Kawasaki finished at the bottom of the constructors' championship in 2008, and had failed to score a victory since returning to motorcycle racing's premier class in 2003, with a handful of podium finishes their best results.
But they had hoped to make a breakthrough this season, having signed former race winner Melandri to partner the determined Hopkins, whose 2008 season had been wrecked by injuries.