Kawasaki Tightening Control Over WSBK Team in 2012 – Paul Bird Motorsport Out

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Kawasaki will not renew its World Superbike contract with Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) for 2012, instead focusing on bringing the race team further under the control of the Japanese manufacturer. Kawasaki had invited bids for teams interested in the 2012 and beyond contract, and received as many as six offers. Just days ago though, Kawasaki European Race Planning Manager Steve Gutteridge indicated that a decision between PBM and current Kawasaki factory World Supersport team Provec would be forthcoming.

Now stating that is has made the decision not to renew PBM’s contract, Kawasaki’s announcement is also devoid of naming the Provec team as the bid winner. “We have enjoyed three valuable years alongside the Paul Bird Motorsport team and would like to put on record our sincere thanks for the time, effort and dedication they have shown to the Kawasaki World Superbike racing programme,” said Race Manager Ichiro Yoda, as he indicated that there would be no contract renewal.

Instead, Yoda explained, “The direction of our World Superbike effort from 2012 moves to even closer control from our HQ where decisions will be made back in Japan next year.” He added, without actually naming a bid winner, “There are plans for much more testing in the future and so from a European logistical perspective Kawasaki’s WSB operating base will need to be close to the best circuits and good weather conditions, for practical reasons.” That statement could indicate that France-based Provec team has won the contract over British-based PBM, but the wording also leaves the suggestion that Kawasaki could be fielding an in-house effort for the 2012 season.

Though there were many legitimite reasons for PBM’s involvement with Kawasaki to come to an end, this announcement came just days after Tom Sykes won the rain-soaked Race 2 at the Nurburgring on his PBM Kawasaki, bringing Team Green is first race victory of the season. This however was not enough to counteract the team’s generally poor performance, the earlier drugs and weapons haul by British customs earlier this season, and the desire for tighter control of the race team by Kawasaki. Making matters worse on the three-rider team has been the complete absence of PBM’s third rider, Chris Vermeulen, who has spent much of the season recovering from previously and newly sustained injuries.

Source: Kawasaki Racing; Photo: Kawasaki Racing