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Page last updated at 06:56 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Kawasaki pulls team out of MotoGP

John Hopkins
Hopkins finds himself out of work with the new season beginning in April

Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki has pulled out of MotoGP to cut costs amid the global financial crisis.

"We took the final decision not to continue in MotoGP," said Kawasaki's Katsuhiro Sato. "It's something we have been considering since mid-December.

"In the current economic climate and unless the situation improves it is difficult to say if we will return."

Kawasaki had competed in motorcycling's premier class since the 2003 season, with annual costs of around 28.8m.

The worldwide economic downturn has also affected other Japanese marques involved in motorsport.

Honda announced in December it is quitting Formula One, while Subaru and Suzuki are out of the World Rally Championship.


Kawasaki has also felt the bite with sales of its bikes in the United States and Europe badly hit by the economic slump.

Dutch-based Kawasaki Motors Racing failed to win in MotoGP, their best result French rider Randy de Puniet's second place in Japan in 2007.

The team had a miserable 2008 campaign , with John Hopkins injured for much of it and finishing 16th overall.

Kawasaki's decision leaves the American and new team-mate Marco Melandri of Italy looking for rides ahead of the 2009 season.

Melandri, who has won five MotoGPs, finished runner-up to compatriot Valentino Rossi in 2005.

Kawasaki's exit, assuming its two bikes are not taken on by an independent team, leaves the MotoGP grid with 17 riders. Points are awarded down to 15th place.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, the chief executive of the sport's promoters Dorna, said they were hopeful a way could be found for Kawasaki to have some representation in this year's championship.

"We had a meeting in Osaka where Kawasaki explained their problems and the difficulties they had with continuing as a factory team," he said.

"Under these circumstances we agreed to cooperate collectively, in order to find a possible solution to their problems which may allow them to continue as a privateer team.

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see also
Suzuki pull out of world rallying
15 Dec 08 |  Rallying
Harsh reality catches up with F1
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Global crisis ends Honda F1 era
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Melandri announces Kawasaki move
20 Aug 08 |  Motorbikes
Kawasaki sign Hopkins from Suzuki
12 Jul 07 |  Motorbikes

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