The story that surrounds Petronas and its ill-fated Petronas FP1 World Superbike project is one full of intrigue, and was seemingly put to bed long ago when the Malaysian oil giant folded its motorcycle business and racing plans in 2006.
The story was brought back to life though when a bunker full of Petronas FP1 street bikes was discovered in the UK. The bikes have their own intriguing story of how the Malays did, or did not, “bend” the homologation rules for WSBK, and how the machines then found their way to be forgotten in a bunker in Essex.
With that discovery, new life was spurred into the Petronas FP1, whose fire-breathing three-cylinder engine and powder blue paint scheme has tantalized the fancy of collectors worldwide for some time now.
This gave birth to the Momoto MM1 project, an outfit that bought the 129 derelict Petronas bikes, and rebranded them for sale just last year. That venture has hit a snag though, as taxes and duties for a vast majority of the machines were apparently not paid, which resulted in the Malaysian government seizing all 129 motorcycles, which in-turn has lead to a recent lawsuit for RM260 million ($83 million USD).
According to the The Malaysian Insider, Momoto’s lawsuit claims that Petronas Technical Services registered only two of its motorcycles with the Malaysian Road Transport Department, and that there were no approved permits for either machine. Momoto further claims that customs and excise duties, totaling RM29 million ($9.25 million), were not paid by Petronas Technical Services.
Buying not only all of the found Petronas FP1 street bikes, but also the spares, designs, blueprints, and patents as well, Momoto is claiming that a breach of contract has occurred between the two parties, and wants restitution.
“We took it for granted that Petronas Technical would have complied with the basic requirement of obtaining the APs and settled all dues to the government at the point of bringing the motorcycles into Malaysia,” a spokesman for Momoto said to The Malaysian Insider.
The issue now seems headed to arbitration, but for motorcycle fans it means one of the more iconic machines in WSBK history will continue to remain unobtainable, for at least a while longer. A shame really, as Momoto reportedly has plans with Suter Racing Technology AG, of MotoGP fame, to continue research and development on the FP1 project.
Photos of the Momoto MM1:
Source: The Malaysian Insider