Honda Motor Co. looks set to scale down its motorcycle racing activities in a further attempt to save money, prompting a factory withdraw from the Suzuka 8 Hours, but insists that its MotoGP project is safe.
Despite withdrawing from Formula One, Reuters
reports that Honda is now seeking to save a further $33.73 million - putting its presence in 'most forms of motorcycle racing' at risk.
"We have not formally decided yet but we have been looking into the option of pulling out," Honda's Akemi Ando told Reuters
"It is something we have been thinking about for a while since we pulled out of Formula One. We have no plans to leave MotoGP."
Those final words will come as a welcome relief to Dorna, which is currently fighting to keep Kawasaki's ZX-RRs on the grid as a privateer outfit for 2009 after the factory's recently announced withdraw.
Whilst Kawasaki's decision dealt the sport a heavy blow, and left a potential grid of just 17 riders, a Honda withdraw could be catastrophic since the company fills six places on the grid - more than any other manufacturer.
The report states that off-road racing will be most heavily hit by the latest cost cuts, but Honda also confirmed that it will have no official team in this year's Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race, the biggest motorcycle race in Japan.
"It's not strictly accurate to say Honda are pulling out of the Eight-Hour race," said Ando. "It is true that our works teams will not take part.
“But Honda supplies bikes and technical support to many of the teams and 60 percent of the bikes on the grid will still be Honda bikes."
Honda won 14 500cc/MotoGP World Championships from 1983 -2006, but has won just four races in the two seasons since the switch to 800cc engines.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), Toni Elias (Honda Gresini), Alex de Angelis (Honda Gresini), Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR) and Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda) are all due to ride RC212Vs in MotoGP this season.