Kawasaki look poised to announce a withdrawal from MotoGP with immediate effect over the next week.

According to several sources, Kawasaki are plotting an exit from the premier motorcycle class after just six seasons in the top flight, although it isn't immediately certain whether the global economic downturn or their poor results are the primary factor in the decision.

Indeed, while Kawasaki has shown flashes of speed over the years with Randy de Puniet, Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque all getting close to a victory with a second place finish apiece, the team is regularly considered to be the 'fifth' best manufacturer team.

Their issues were compounded in 2008 when the combination of John Hopkins and Anthony West managed a best of fifth place each, helping Kawasaki to ninth place in the ten-strong team championship, ahead of only the one-man LCR Honda outfit.

Nonetheless, as a sign of how quickly this decision has come, preparations for 2009 were seemingly well underway, with Hopkins and new team-mate, Ducati exile Marco Melandri, out testing earlier this month in Australia.

However, despite the inclusion of a GP winner to their line-up, it seems Kawasaki will become another major name to scale back their involvement in motorsport, following on from Japanese counterparts Honda, Suzuki and Subaru.

Indeed, despite their limited success over the years, the loss of one of the most distinctive entrants is a major blow to the series, not least because it lowers the number of official MotoGP entries to just 17 next year.

Furthermore, it isn't clear what this will mean for the team's World Superbike effort, which has also struggled in recent seasons. They recently announced that their bikes will be run under the Paul Bird Motorsport banner in 2009.



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