Factory Ducati riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden have spoken of their shock at Kawasaki’s recent decision to quit MotoGP.
The move leaves Stoner’s former team-mate Marco Melandri and Hayden’s fellow American John Hopkins without a ride in 2009 with Kawasaki confirming last Friday its decision to quit.
Kawasaki’s decision to withdraw because of the global economic crisis leaves MotoGP with a field of just 17 bikes for 2009.
And Stoner said: “It’s shocking to be honest. I really didn’t expect it. It was a shock to all of us. We’re trying to keep as many bikes on the grid as we can and when things like that happen it is not great.
"I don’t believe it affects us with five Ducatis on the grid and I think we are doing the best job we can. We have to concentrate and worry about our part in the sport. But I’d like to see more bikes on the grid than what there are.
"I miss the days when there were 25 to 30 bikes and sometimes it would be nice to have this. But at the same time you’d have very good machinery at the front and not such good machinery at the back.
"I think keeping it tighter and keeping it higher quality machinery then it gives more chance of close racing.”
Hayden also said Kawasaki’s decision was also a detrimental move for MotoGP.
“I think it’s a shame, honestly,“ said the Kentucky rider. “The more bikes and more competition on the grid is always a good thing.
"I feel sorry the people who have lives too and families. People losing their jobs is never a good thing. I think we’re the lucky ones because we have the good sponsors.
"I think MotoGP is strong and has a lot of big sponsors and some good people in charge. It’s cool to see people wanting to change rules, wanting to make things happen and adjust to make the situation better.
"So I think next year we’ll have a few different rules to help save the teams some cost and in the end I think it’ll make the series stronger.”