Kawasaki dig at Eckl

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Kawasaki has broken its silence over the reason for its hurried split with former MotoGP team boss Harald Eckl, blaming his close involvement with the Ilmor team for the shock move to take the whole race operation in-house.

The firm curtly announced earlier this month that Eckl was no longer running its MotoGP team, but said no more. Now they are prepared to say the “recent necessary split from Harald Eckl and the company KMGP, [came] after Kawasaki was confronted with Eckl’s serious involvement with a competitor’s MotoGP activities, which forced Kawasaki to terminate the relationship immediately.”

Although Ilmor is not explicitly named, Eckl had an involvement with Ilmor, and was one of the triumvirate of men referred to in the name of the bike, the X3.

In a statement, Kawasaki president Shinichi Tamba continued: “Last year we fielded the most competitive Ninja ZX-RR since Kawasaki returned to Grand Prix racing at the end of the 2002 season, as Shinya Nakano’s second place at Assen proved. But, the overall results in 2006 clearly were not what we were expecting, due, in part, to a lack of dedicated attention from our former Team Manager.”

The firm’s race operation now falls under the control of current tech boss Ichiro Yoda. Tamba explained: “This is a new beginning for Kawasaki. The performance of the new 800cc Ninja ZX-RR during the initial tests has been promising, but we know there is still a lot of development work to do if we are to be competitive from the first race next season.

“I’m pleased to say that the team in the pit box will remain virtually unchanged from this season. This has been a great help, and it has undoubtedly allowed us to progress much faster with building the new team infrastructure. We furthermore highly appreciate the full support from Dorna regarding our new MotoGP structure.”

“While we know we are facing a tough job to have everything ready for the first race of the 2007 season, we are confident that the strong commitment from the new team management and the rest of the team, will lead to an improvement in results during the season ahead.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt