MOTORCYCLING

Cash-strapped Kawasaki pulls out of MotoGP racing

Kawasaki has decided to end its participation in the world's top-class motorcycle racing competition because of financial difficulties. This is the fourth Japanese manufacturer to have exited motor racing for similar reasons since December.

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Reuters - Kawasaki have pulled out of motorcycling's MotoGP world championship as part of the company's efforts to cut spending amid the global financial crisis.

 

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd on Friday became Japan's latest motorsport casualty after a trio of the country's carmakers announced similar plans last month.

 

The worldwide economic downturn was blamed for Honda's withdrawal from Formula One and the exit of Subaru and Suzuki from the world rally championship.

 

"We took the final decision not to continue in MotoGP yesterday," Kawasaki's Katsuhiro Sato told Reuters. "It is something we have been considering since mid-December.

 

"In the current economic climate and unless the situation improves it is difficult to say if we will return."

 

Kawasaki had competed in motorcycling's premier class since 2003 with annual costs of around 4 billion yen ($43.8 million).

 

Slumping car sales amid the credit crunch ended the Formula One ambitions of Honda, who scored just 20 points in the last two seasons despite an estimated annual budget of over $300 million.

 

Suzuki and Subaru soon followed suit, leaving Citroen and cash-strapped Ford as the only manufacturers in next year's world rally championship.

 

Toyota is the last Japanese manufacturer still standing in the two main FIA-backed world championships.

 

Kawasaki has also felt the bite with European and U.S. sales in the company's main market of big-engine bikes badly hit by the economic slump.

 

Rivals Yamaha, who won last year's MotoGP championship with Italian rider Valentino Rossi, told Reuters they would compete in the 2009 season and had no plans to leave the sport.

 

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