Naturally the chat in the cramped Cadwell pit lane during the Bank Holiday MCE British Superbike championship round was all about GSE Racing and last week’s announcement that Airwaves would not be backing them in 2010.
There wasn’t a lot of substance but plenty of supposition, the biggest one being, ‘what if GSE don’t find a backer to replace Airwaves?’
It seems inconceivable that GSE, with all their success, won’t be able to come up with a decent title sponsor. But these are hardly normal times and the most likely answer to the ‘what if’ is that they would probably quit racing.
Personally, I’m pretty confident they already have a new backer on the backburner (the 2010 season budget won’t be anywhere near as hefty as it was this year since they now have the hardware), but to pursue the theory for a while, what the hell would Yamaha do without GSE?
Rob Mac Racing don’t have the kind of budget Yamaha are demanding for the factory bikes and even if they did, they’ve hardly showered themselves in glory this year to warrant full factory support: Rutter quit, NW200 backer quit, mid-term they switched from K-Tech back to Ohlins – and even admitted they got their engine development programme wrong.
There’s a spurious rumour of an all-new Yamaha team coming to BSB but, frankly, that’s going to take a massive set-up budget and Yamaha themselves aren’t in the position of running it in-house – or paying the bulk of the bills.
Then there’s the suggestion of Shaun Muir’s well-established Hydrex-backed outfit switching brands. He’s already selling off the majority of his Honda race bikes.
But straight-talking Muir told me he’s had no conversations with Yamaha since they ditched his proposals last winter to run Yamaha and took up with GSE instead.
With that bit of history in mind, I really can’t see him getting Hydrex and Yamaha around the table again.
But I do find it strange Yamaha haven’t yet approached Muir – just as a fail-safe should GSE not run.
Muir, though, might be handily placed to become the number one Honda team should HM Plant Honda not have the budget to race in 2010.
Again, it’s almost inconceivable the official Honda team could be sidelined - but they’ve already had budgets slashed this year and things won’t change overnight.
This is also the final year of a three-year HM Plant deal.
HM Plant’s John Jones has been a massive fan of BSB but Hitachi (HM Plant is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe), even though it is the number one excavator supplier in the UK, still has to remain as prudent as everyone else in the construction industry during these difficult times.
There’s been plenty of rumours about Muir going to Aprilia or BMW too, but again, the start-up costs will be massive and you have to wonder if the manufacturers will want to be spending money when, as GSE have found in the past with Ducati and now with Yamaha – the money normally goes the other way.
And with what the privateer Hydrex Honda team has achieved this year – what’s in it for them to become the official Honda squad – unless there’s was some very special HRC factory kit – and even a rider - in the deal?