Kawasaki silent on MotoGP withdrawal

Published: 31 December 2008

Kawasaki is remaining silent on shock plans to quit MotoGP with immediate effect.

News of the withdrawal broke yesterday (Tuesday) and threatens to plunge the MotoGP world championship into a major crisis heading into 2009, with Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta facing the prospect of a 17-rider field next season.

American John Hopkins confirmed he has been notified of Kawasaki’s decision to quit, citing the global economic crisis and a disastrous 2008 campaign for its reason to withdraw.

MCN understands all team personnel were notified on December 29, though it is unclear when senior Japanese management took the decision to pull the plug on the costly MotoGP project.

It was certainly after December 16 when the FIM published the 2009 entry list, which featured Hopkins and Italian Marco Melandri.

There has still been no official confirmation from Kawasaki about its withdrawal, which would make the Japanese company another major casualty of the financial meltdown.

Honda recently quit Formula One and Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the world rally series because of the credit crunch.

Team boss Michael Bartholemy has refused to comment on Kawasaki’s current plight, but MCN understands he is frantically working on a rescue plan to continue racing.

And team spokesman Ian Wheeler has also declined to comment with no official statement as yet released from Japan.

A formal announcement is expected early next week.