By Mike Nicks

Triple world champion Kenny Roberts Senior is shutting his workshops in Banbury, England, after 12 years of operation now that his Team KR has - temporarily, everyone hopes - pulled out of the MotoGP paddock.

The Team KR plant was one of the few places outside of major motorcycle factories where a grand prix bike could be designed and manufactured, but manager Chuck Aksland told me at Donington today that it had become economically unviable after Roberts had to shut down his MotoGP activities at the end of last year.

A dozen workers have been made redundant, but chief designer Barry Ward is setting up his own consultancy and will continue to make the chassis parts that Roberts had been supplying to clients in Superbike racing.

"Without a racing programme the overheads were too high," Chuck said. "But we've done it in such a way that we'll be ready to go in case we need to start making racing bikes again."

The Banbury plant was always an exciting place to be: the KR guys made the 500cc Proton three-cylinder bike there, and the short-lived 990cc V5 machine until they finished a two-decade involvement with MotoGP by creating a Honda-engined machine last year.

Aksland says that negotiations are continuing with Las Vegas hotel operators to provide backing to bring the legendary KR name back to grid. The sport needs their colour and ingenuity.