Kawasaki has confirmed this morning that it will quit the MotoGP world championship with immediate effect, leaving John Hopkins and Marco Melandri without a ride just three months before the first race.
The confirmation that the global economic crisis has claimed its first MotoGP casualty came after crisis talks with Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta in Japan yesterday.
Kawasaki has signalled its intention to quit during the Christmas break after a woeful performance in 2008 saw the Japanese factory finish 16th and 18th in the series.
Dorna boss Ezpeleta had flown to Japan this week for an emergency summit with Kawasaki, not least because Kawasaki had signed an agreement in 2007 to supply bikes until the end of the 2011 campaign at least.
But the talks failed to reach a solution, though it is not clear whether the collapse of Kawasaki’s factory involvement has any impact on plans by Jorge Martinez to takeover the team.
In a statement released in Tokyo today, Kawasaki blamed the quickly changing business environment for its departure.
The statement read
‘Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced today that it has decided to suspend its factory MotoGP racing activities from 2009 season.
Amid quickly changing business environment, Kawasaki has been promptly taking countermeasures to cope with the situation.
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.’