As part of Fiat Yamaha's virtual launch of its 2009 MotoGP campaign, an interview with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis was released.
The most significant pats of the interview, regarding the global economic crisis and a potential 17 rider MotoGP field following Kawasaki's withdraw, are shown below…
The global economic situation has affected all levels of motor sports, including F1, rally and now MotoGP, with the withdrawal of Kawasaki. What do you think about this and are you concerned about the shrinking number of riders on the MotoGP grid? What needs to change in order to attract more teams to MotoGP?
It's a big question. Of course if I look at the withdrawal, basically it started at the end of December when almost one after another, after another, firstly Honda stopped, then Suzuki and Subaru in rally, and then finally, unfortunately, Kawasaki. It's a sign of the times. These big factories are pulling out of the top sports disciplines.
Fortunately our position as Yamaha is a little different. We are facing the crisis as mush as anybody else, but our team project is very successful and that's why I think we can and will continue into the future, because it's a very important tool for Yamaha, for its marketing.
With regards to the number of bikes on the grid in the MotoGP, of course I'm concerned. I'd rather not see the global recession, I'd rather see the teams prospering, I'd rather see in excess of, 20, 22 or 24 bikes on the grid. We have to face the reality as it is and I sincerely hope that the Kawasaki bikes will stay. Ideally it would be at least 19 or 20 bikes on the grid.
We have to really seriously rethink for the future how we can further grow the health of the sport.
How do you think MotoGP can change to keep itself as the most important motorcycle championship in the current climate? What budget minimizing restrictions would you suggest?
I think when you have times of economic difficulty and recession, everybody has to rethink. That includes Dorna, that includes the FIM, it includes the manufacturers, the private teams, the riders. Everybody has to think about how we can, minimize the negative effects and look forward to the future growth.
I think the immediate cost cutting measures that are proposed by the MSMA are a good start. Already this year we reduced a lot the winter tests, we are going to reduce further the testing and the practice times throughout the season. There are proposals for 2010 to make important changes in the technical specifications, and I think all these things will be essential.