Pitt devastated at Ilmor withdrawal

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Andrew Pitt has spoken for the first time about the bitter disappointment at Ilmor’s shock withdrawal from the MotoGP world championship last week.

The Aussie, who suffered a crushing blow at the end of 2006 when he was axed by Yamaha’s World Superbike squad, was left reeling by Mario Illien’s decision to suspend Ilmor’s involvement in MotoGP because of a lack of sponsorship.

“I don’t really know what to say to be honest. As I’ve learnt over the past few years that’s the nature of the business. It’s just been bad news after bad news lately.

Everything came a bit late after I got left out in the open last year but I was looked at this and got involved because it was a good opportunity to be involved in a long-term project. It’s turned out by the looks of it not to be a long-term project.

I’m pretty much back to square one again. As annoyed as I am there’s no point going crazy about it but it won’t change anything. I’m not angry, just more shocked than anything else. I did not see it coming at all and I don’t think anyone did. I’ve spoken to the mechanics and Jeremy (McWilliams) and we don’t even know what to say to each other. Something doesn’t make sense because we were under the impression when signing on that there was the budget there for one-year minimum, “said the former World Supersport champion.

“But no sponsors have come onboard and that seems to be a much bigger problem than we thought it was, “added Pitt, who was forced to retire from the opening race of the season in Qatar with engine problems.

Pitt stayed on to test the troubled V4 in Doha and he was stunned when Illien told him that the team would not be racing in this weekend’s Spanish GP in Jerez, even though the bikes and equipment have been air freighted direct from the Middle East to Spain, and the teams truck is in Jerez after last month’s IRTA test.

Pitt added: “I did the test after Qatar and while conditions weren’t that good we’d improved the pick-up and we talked about the settings we were going to use in Jerez. It was all about planning for this weekend and what we were going to do there. We’d been through the tyre choice for Michelin and we were going forward with Michelin and we knew the stuff we were getting for Jerez was the latest development stuff. I was looking forward to it because we were making progress.”

Pitt had just finished a training session and done some supermotard riding when he took the call from Illien about the suspension of racing activities.

“When I saw it was Mario calling the last thing I expected was a call saying they were pulling the plug. All a long I’ve had a lot of confidence in Mario and one of the good things I really liked about him was he would ring me through the week and he always kept me updated. He’d call about the mapping and throttle pick-up and kept me in the loop with what was going on and I thought it was another one of those phone calls. So when he said it was all over it blew me away, “said Pitt, who said he was unsure what the future held for him.

“At this stage I’m hoping to get back out there with Ilmor but I don’t know how likely that is. In an ideal situation we’d only miss one or two races and be back out there, and obviously I hope that happens but all I can do is sit tight. I spoke to Mario and I got the impression that it’s not all over and he definitely wants to go racing again. But the concern is that the team has been released too, so after the next couple of weeks there’s no team in place, “added Pitt.
Despite the bleak future Pitt could still find time to joke by admitting the Ilmor crisis would at least give him chance to watch Australia in the Cricket World Cup.
He said: “I’m getting to watch a fair bit of the Cricket World Cup now. I might have to see any cheap tickets to the Caribbean going.”



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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt