The provisional entry lists for the world road racing championships have been released, with a mere 19 riders scheduled to compete in the premiere Moto GP class. There were serious fears of there being even fewer, as rumours have been circulating that Honda was looking at a serious pull-back or even cancellation of their participation.
Since they’ve just deep-sixed their entire Formula One car racing program, cancelled their U.S. Superbike team (although they’re still sponsoring two satellite teams there), have put several factory developments on hold, and cancelled a program to replace the fabled NSX supercar, the fears seemed realistic.
However, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui’s end-of-year speech made no mention of such a plan, and in fact he went out of his way to describe how motorcycles were still the heart of Honda, while listing the various automotive sector cut-backs.
It’s a very good thing for Moto GP, inasmuch as of the 19 bikes, no fewer than six, one-third of the field, are Hondas. Ducati is next up in the numbers list with five entries, then Yamaha with four, then two Suzukis and two Kawasakis.
The riders and teams are:
Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, factory Honda Repsol
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda
Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini
Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team Honda
Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden, factory Marlboro Ducati
Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa, Pramac Racing Ducati
Sete Gibernau, Onde 2000 Ducati
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, factory Fiat Yamaha
Colin Edwards and James Toseland, Tech 3 Yamaha
Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi, Rizla Suzuki
John Hopkins and Marco Melandri, Kawasaki Racing Team
The new guys are both Pramac riders: Mika Kallio making the jump from 250s and Nicollo Canepa from being a Ducati tester; Yuki Takahashi on the Scot Team, up from 250s; and Sete Gibernau, returning after retiring in 2006.