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

  • Autolegend86

    Lets just burn them all already and be doen with the satan beast.

  • SBPilot

    Momoto’s lawyers should have had the clause in there stating that all the bikes were full paid off in taxes and that registration on all bikes would be ready upon closing of the agreement. A pretty obvious clause one would think. The fact that Momoto says they “took for granted” means they assumed wrongly, that’s business.

    Petronas whether intentionally or unintentionally didn’t mention that the bikes had tax owing on them in the agreement, is up to the courts to find out, but since it’s not going into litigation, than no one will know. I have a feeling Petronas ditched those bikes in the first place to avoid paying the tax, and now they will have the new owners pay some of it for them, I’m sure they are smiling.

  • TexusTim

    wow that sounds mean and looks like it pulls good…I guess there wasnt a clause that said “you assume our tax liability” ? if not that was racked up by the previous owner and unless stated I cant see how momo becomes responsable for a previous “tax” debt any way I want to get ahold of one of those…for the track hehehe I bet it could handle the panigale.

  • kww

    If you don’t sell the bikes, export them, or permit them, or let them out of the box (warehouse) then I would guess that no tax is required. Of course, who is the expert on motorcycle tax law in Malaysia?!?

    Fact is, Petronas never sold them, so they dodged this issue handily. I bet Momoto is going to get hosed on this.

    Till then, the bikes can only be enjoyed inside the box by Schrödinger’s cat (or not).

  • digi

    Man those government thugs sure love them some seizing.

  • mak lampir

    bravo Malaysian government….they cannot sell it, then throw it into the bunkers and money of Malaysian’s people burned just like that..

    can all of you guys see, how intelligent, brilliant of Malaysian leaders?

    to whom may involved with this, you will answer it at doomsday in front of Allah, and believe me, its very very hard to answer it

  • donno

    From the start, the programme is managed by people in Petronas with no background in automotive manufacturing, and the laws and ways to navigate those laws. They are mostly R&D and marketing guys.

    There are ways to navigate those minefields, and frankly those guys have no idea how.

    But they did actually follow the WSBK homologation rules to the letter. Actually buliding 150 of those FP1’s (75 in UK and another 75 in Modenas Malaysia 6 months later). And they actually build 150, not 75 in UK, dismantled and rebuilt in Malaysia for the illusion of 150bikes…

    sad to see how this thing get to this stage…

  • Norm G.

    re: “they assumed wrongly, that’s business.”

    actually no, lack of disclosure isn’t business, they have a seperate name for it… FRAUD.

  • Jaybond

    Those who’s in charged earlier at Petronas just did’nt seem to care about how to market the FP1 streetbike and what are the rules & regulations governing the delivery/distribution of the bikes. They just built the bikes and let them rot inside the bunker, for what? It’s just unacceptable for a big company like Petronas..

  • The first element of fraud is criminal intent to defraud — a very difficult thing to prove in a court of law.

  • Amfin

    Welcome to Malaysia guys.I’m a Malaysian and we’re actually screwed in the Motorvehicle scenario.We’re the 2nd (SECOND) most expensive place to own vehicle in the world (cars/bike & truck etc).As per : (, you can clearly see it is just sole purpose to protect PROTON created by our Tun Mahathir (ex-PM).You guys must be wondering, heck why does this involve bikes? Guys, we have 365 days of Tropical Weather riding be it long highways from Singapore to Bangkok,great trail riding from Kuching,Sarawak to Tawau,Sabah and many more. So imagine if every Malaysian ditch the PROTON and start riding in decent sized bikes.It is HEAVEN, but again to protect PROTON, they taxed bikes too like crazy, Example Honda Gold Wing in USA is $29,550 (ABS/Airbag Model) while in Malaysia its RM 155 000 or $49,143 ( :(

  • Chris Cornell

    We dont what transpired in the sales & purchase agreement. Who knows maybe there’s a clause that says it’s free from encumbrances. Probably that’s why Momoto took it for granted….who knows.

    What I understand from a friend in Malaysian Customs, motorcycle manufacturers in Malaysia are taxable once the bikes are fully assemble in the factory regardless you sell the bikes or not. So that explains the RM29million tax & duties not paid since the bike was manufactured in 2002.

    Another issue would be no import permit. How did they brought in 75 bikes without AP??? Declared as spare parts..maybe?..but you still need AP spare parts which is taxable as well.

    Petronas is a mess. They shud just stick to their core business.

  • Dat Guy

    AnR…Thank you for your coverage..and courage! ;-)

  • Dat Guy

    Copied from The Malaysia Insider…
    “A bipartisan parliamentary committee will recommend that action be taken against a unit of national oil firm Petronas for evading taxes and not having approved permits (APs) when it brought in 129 superbikes from the United Kingdom.

    Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed (pic) said they cannot call Petronas Technical Services to appear before them to get further clarification on a RM260 million suit against them by superbike maker Momoto as Petronas has its own legislation and comes under the prime minister’s purview.

    “We will send a letter to the prime minister soon to recommend that they take action against the company,” he said at a press conference in Parliament today.”

    Seems like Petronas are Untouchable and only accountable to the Prime Minister.