“We took the final decision not to continue in MotoGP yesterday. t 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,” said Kawasaki's Katsuhiro Sato.
Kawasaki therefore becomes the 4th major manufacturer to pull out of a major motorsport series during the winter, following Honda's withdrawal from Formula 1 in early December and Subaru and Suzuki's exits from the WRC during the course of the same month.
Kawasaki were rumored to take such a decision shortly after the Christmas holidays. Although not officially announcing the quit, the signs were quite obvious. Both Marco Melandri and John Hopkins were already looking for jobs, with the former's manager urging MotoGP promoter Dorna to secure his client a ride in 2009.
Kawasaki's operations might be taken over by Jorge Martinez – team owner in the 125cc and 250cc class, Aspar – as announced by the man himself the other day. Martinez had planned to run a satellite Kawasaki in the MotoGP as early as last season, but the deal was not finalized due to sponsorship conflicts.
Kawasaki ended the last 3 seasons at the bottom of the MotoGP constructors' standings, outscoring only Ilmor in 2007 and KR in 2006. The team's last win in the Queen class happened 5 years ago, in 2003.