Honda still finalising 2012 strategy

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Honda is still in the process of finalising its 2012 MotoGP line-up with HRC facing pressure to make drastic cuts to its racing budget next season.

The impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March has hit the Honda Motor Company hard with sales and production in the automotive sector well below forecasts.

As a result, HRC has been asked to slash a massive 30 per cent of its budget for 2012, resulting in a delay in the racing arm of Honda confirming its 2012 plans so far.

It looks a certainty that the official HRC squad, backed by Repsol, will revert back to two bikes for Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

Fausto Gresini's satellite squad could run just one bike for Marco Simoncelli with the Italian team boss considering running a Honda but also developing his own 1000cc project using a Moriwaki chassis and an Aprilia RSV4 motor.

And the LCR Honda squad is still unsure whether it will field one or two bikes next season.

Lucio Cecchinello will definitely field one bike but is also in talks with the Keifer Racing Moto2 team about a deal to run Stefan Bradl.

German Bradl though it still keen on running with Keifer Racing squad in his own team, but when asked by MCN how Honda would distribute its bikes next season, race boss Shuhei Nakamoto said: "We are talking but this is not decided yet and we have many requests.  Dani and Casey both have one more year on their contract, so they are decided and we are talking to Marco and Andrea (Dovizioso) and some new teams want to use the Honda machine.

"In Japan there was a big problem with the tsunami and usually Honda Motor Company decides budgets for next year by the end of July. But this year everything is delayed. We are still talking about this year's budget and just start on next year so it is difficult to give an answer to riders. I am very happy with Marco and Andrea. I want to keep both of them but I can't say anything, I am trying to find budget."

Nakamoto went onto explain why the HRC budget was facing such a big reduction for the first 1000cc world championship next year.

He added: "HRC is asking for the same budget as this year but the company is saying no because the tsunami means that car production is down because of parts supply. Overall in the Honda business car sales are around 70 per cent and we couldn't make 30 per cent of those cars, so this number is a big damage for Honda in overall budget. My first talks with Honda Motor were that I must cut 30 per cent of my budget but I said impossible. Getting the budget is my biggest job and fortunately I recover a little bit but 30 per cent is impossible."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt