SPECULATION that Castrol Honda will run just one full-factory SP-2 in WSB next season was reinforced when Tady Okada announced his retirement after finishing second in the final round of the All Japan Superbike Championship at Suzuka.
The Japanese ace may have ended his 14-year racing career, but he will stay with HRC - as a development rider and as boss of the company’s domestic superbike effort. He has also suggested that he would like to race in next year’s Suzuka eight-hour endurance event.
Team manager Neil Tuxworth is meeting factory bosses next week, but the news that Okada will not be in WSB next year suggests that the factory will run Colin Edwards in a one-man team, although plans are being made to field a two man satellite squad using 2001 bikes.
Yesterday’s Suzuka race was won by 500GP rider Tohru Ukawa, Okada’s team-mate in the Cabin Honda team.
Suzuki’s Akira Ryo went to the final round leading Makoda Tamada, winner of both Japanese WSB rounds earlier this season, by 11 points.
The top eight were covered by less than two seconds at the end of the 20-lap race, with Ryo finishing third to win the title by 29 points.