Rumors are shooting across the web that Kawasaki is retiring from MotoGP for the 2009 season. Allegedly, Kawasaki has notified Dorna Sports that it will be pulling out of the series, with a public announcement to come Monday next week. More on the announcement after the jump.
The motorcycle industry has been waiting with bated breath to see who, if anyone, would be pulling out of the premiere motorcycle class. Most fingers were pointing to the Honda camp, but it looks that Kawasaki is going to be the first blood. We’d speculate that the public announcement will cite the global economic situation as being the reason for the withdrawl. Kawasaki has, at best, had only mediocre success in MotoGP with its factory supported team, at what has surely been a high cost. Because of this, it sure must have been a easy line item to cut off the expense sheet.
This move will also effectively leave John Hopkins and Marco Melandri on the unemployed list. “I have to wait and hear some words, as at the moment I’ve heard nothing,” Melandri told the Gazzetta dello Sport “If it is true, then I can only hope that when I wake up on January 1st it is all a nightmare.” Marco Melandri arguably had the most to prove in the 2009 season after a disappointing season with Ducati in 2008.
With Kawasaki pulling out, this would leave MotoGP with only 17 bikes on the starting grid, which is under the minimum contract requirements stated by the FIM. In addition to Kawasaki’s announcement on Monday, I think we can expect to hear a response from Carmelo Ezpeleta, of Dorna Sports, on how this move will affect the racing series, and how they will handle another team bowing out under the same financial pressure.