Stiggy Honda has confirmed that it will cut its WSBK and WSS rider line-up from four to two riders for the remaining three rounds of the 2009 season.

The decision has been made due to 'a combination of economical issues and rider injuries' and was necessary 'in order to secure the team's continuation in this year's championship'.

Superbike rider John Hopkins - who suffered serious injuries in the recent German round - has already announced that he will not race again this season.

Due to a shortfall in finances the Anglo-American will not be replaced, meaning that Leon Haslam will be Stiggy's only Superbike rider.

The Englishman has taken four podiums this season and holds sixth in the championship heading into this weekend's Imola round and still has a mathematical chance of third.

"The spec of our bike is what it is at the minute, but we proved in Germany that we are still capable of running and battling at the front," said Leon, ahead of this weekend's event. "We have tested at Imola this summer, and were third quickest on race tyres. We missed out on a chance to use the best tyres at that test like the official teams did.

"You need corner speed at Imola and our bike feels good out of the turns. We already set our gearing choices at the test so we should be able to spend most of our time working on the electronics. I'm looking forward to Imola and hope I can make up for Germany and get on the podium again."

Meanwhile, the decision to cut back to one rider in the Supersport class was far harder for Stiggy, since it meant axing Gianluca Vizziello.

The Italian 'has failed to deliver the expected results', sitting only 17th in the championship with a best finish of seventh, but it was still hard for team manager Johan Stigefelt, himself a former rider, to tell Vizziello the news.

"After long discussions with our partner S2 Racing, who are the financial provider for the team, we have finally decided to let Gianluca go," he said. "We need to do everything we can to survive the remaining three races and had no other option then to cut the costs dramatically.

"This is by far the worst year for me as team manger in the five years I have been active in this championship. I know a lot of the teams out there are struggling due to global the economic crisis, but it is never easy to tell a rider that he will have to stay home.

"I know how much they want to be out there and do what they like doing best. As a rider, I have been through it myself and know how tough it is. I wish Gianluca all the best for the near future and hope he can ride the last races in another team and find himself a good ride for next year," he added.

Vizziello claimed he knew his dismissal was coming, but that it still hit him 'like a rock'.

"I'm obviously very sad and disappointed that this decision has been made," he said. "The team is in a bad financial position right now, and struggled to support for the remaining races of the championship. I knew it was coming, but nevertheless it still hits me like a rock.

"I had my focus on these last rounds and it just feels like I am being robbed of my chances. Still a big thanks to my crew and team for the great work this year. I have nothing more to say than to hope for a better solution in the future for me."

Anthony West will thus be Stiggy's only Supersport rider. The Australian currently holds sixth place in the standings with three podiums.

"I think we can get everything together for this race," said the former 250GP and WSS race winner. "We have been up and down a bit this year but we got good result in Brno two races ago, and we have tested at Imola.

"I think the way the bike is now is the way we will finish the season, so we will just go for it. We should have a good set-up as far as our suspension goes, so we need the engine to be running well. You need a strong engine coming out of corners at Imola."

Rumours suggest that Stiggy could switch to Yamaha machinery for 2010.



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