Ilmor to focus on engine development
As revealed in last week’s MCN, the British-based Ilmor MotoGP team will focus solely on engine development with a track return in 2007 still in major doubt.
Ilmor boss Mario Illien announced this morning at the team’s Brixworth headquarters in Northamptonshire that several personnel will be released from their contracts in a new scaled down crew that will concentrate on developing the V4 motor.
Illien dropped a bombshell in mid-March when he withdrew the team from the 2007 MotoGP world championship after just one round.
A search for a title sponsor has continued to be a fruitless exercise for the Brixworth team, and Illien has announced the latest plans for the ill-fated project having set an end of April deadline to find investment.
Illien said: “Whilst our commitment to finding a title sponsor and suitable Ilmor GP partners to make racing a viable financial option continues in full force, it is senseless to employ an entire race team when our track activity has ceased albeit on a temporary basis. I know that it’s hard for people to understand why we have stopped racing and some people have been quick to judge our withdrawal from the MotoGP World Championship but I remain upbeat and I still strongly believe that we will find a financial partner for the team. In the mean time we have to restructure and put in place a smaller team dedicated to engine development.”
Despite his shock withdrawal from MotoGP after just one race, Illien still attended the recent Barcelona sponsorship summit to offer his opinions on the current economic climate in the premier class.
“It is clear that further work needs to be done to make the sport more appealing to commercial partners” Illien added. “Key people outside of the sport don’t really understand what MotoGP is and the fantastic opportunity it represents by association. I also think that people perhaps underestimated the impact that the decline in tobacco sponsorship would have on the sport. Added to this potential corporate sponsors are much more environmentally aware these days – I’m a strong believer that environmental issues and professional motorsport shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. There are plenty of opportunities to be explored on this front.”
While a large part of the team will be disbanded, British veteran Jeremy McWilliams and Aussie team-mate Andrew Pitt continue to remain under contract to Ilmor.
“Both Andrew and Jeremy have done a fantastic job for Ilmor GP under difficult circumstances and I want to thank them for their on- going patience and understanding. If all goes to plan and we manage to secure the funding to get back out for the remainer of the 2007 season then of course I would love to have both riders back on board, “added Illien.