Following the revelations in Germany last weekend, Kawasaki has asserted its intentions to assume 'a greater degree of control' over its World Superbike Championship effort in 2012 – whilst at the same time hinting at a continued team involvement through a European 'operating base'.
On the same day that Tom Sykes delivered the Japanese manufacturer its first WSBK victory for five years at the Nürburgring, Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) dropped a bombshell by announcing that Kawasaki would be dispensing with its services come season's end [see separate story – click here
There had already been speculation that another team could be commissioned to take over the outfit, with the names of Team Pedercini, Supersonic Racing and MSS Colchester all mooted earlier on in the summer – although the favourite appears to be Provec Motocard.com, credited with turning Kawasaki into title-contenders at World Supersport level over the past three years.
The latest statement, however, suggests that in addition to employing a new team, Kawasaki will henceforth take its WSBK operation more in-house and take more decisions from Japan – a sign of continued commitment to the championship.
'Focussing on the race-winning potential of the new Ninja ZX-10R, the company has decided to exercise a greater degree of control over the engineering and structured development of the flagship machine for the 2012 season,' it reads.
'Having worked closely with Paul Bird Motorsport for the past three years, the relationship for the WSBK effort will draw to a close at the end of the 2011 season. Kawasaki praises the efforts of PBM and all those team members and riders involved during that time.'
“We have enjoyed three valuable years alongside the Paul Bird Motorsport team,” affirmed race manager, Ichiro Yoda, “and we 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.
“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. There are plans for much more testing in the future, and so from a European logistical perspective, Kawasaki's WSBK operating base will need to be close to the best circuits and good weather conditions, for practical reasons. Additionally, this new situation must also match the budget constraints that the company has to operate within.
“Understandably, it is a considerable challenge to develop a brand new machine into a potential race-winner whilst competing in the public arena, and we applaud the efforts of all those who have contributed towards getting us to our current position. We hope that everyone with an interest in the World Superbike Championship will look forward to seeing Kawasaki on the grid once more in 2012.”
There has been no mention of riders, although contrary to PBM's press release over the weekend, Sykes has since stressed that from his point-of-view, at least, 'there is a strong desire from both parties for there to be an ongoing relationship that can reap the full benefits of the work done to-date' [see separate story – click here