Still No Decision On Ten Kate MotoGP Team

Much of the uncertainty surrounding James Toseland's future in MotoGP is related to the plans of his current team, Ten Kate Honda, to enter MotoGP. Ronald ten Kate has already stated that he expects to make an announcement at the end of June, but speculation continues apace.

Now, the Dutch site Motorfreaks.nl has helped clear the situation up a little, in an interview with team manager Ronald ten Kate, ranging over the team's plans for MotoGP and World Supersport, his reaction to the rule changes in World Superbikes, and the possibility of an official Honda Ten Kate replica CBR1000RR.

Most important to MotoGP fans is the state of the team's MotoGP plans. Rumors were rife in Holland that plans for a MotoGP team had been dropped, as Jaap Timmer, Director of Sport for the Assen TT, had said in a press conference that Takeo Fukui, CEO of Honda Motor Company Limited, would be visiting Ten Kate's home base in Nieuwleusen, not to discuss a MotoGP team, but the creation of a junior team in World Supersport. Ronald ten Kate was dismissive of such talk:

Well, there's plenty of talk about, but that particular conversation was about the fact that we could go in two different directions. This doesn't mean that the MotoGP project has been abandoned, on the contrary, we are still in the middle of negotiations about the project. But basically, we can go two different ways: Continue with setting up a MotoGP team; or continue our work in Supersport. We'll be having several discussions with people from HRC next week, including the CEO of Honda Corporation, Takeo Fukui.

So, it seems Ten Kate's MotoGP plans are still up in the air, and only likely to be finalized next week. There is no doubt that Ten Kate's decision will have a big effect in the MotoGP paddock. Ten Kate's inclusion will likely mean the demise of one or more of the satellite Honda teams, as it's improbable that even the mighty Honda could supply more than the 6 RC212Vs plus backup parts and engines that it currently provides to MotoGP teams. Ten Kate's Hannspree sponsorship would suggest that Gresini would get the boot, but Gresini have so far been the most successful satellite Honda team. The alternative is that Konica Minolta and LCR would stop getting Honda bikes, which is a much more credible scenario: the Konica Minolta sponsorship deal with team manager Luca Montiron finishes at the end of the season, and Lucio Cecchinello has had a difficult time finding a title sponsor for the LCR effort. That would just leave the Hannspree spoils to be divided, a battle that Ten Kate look likely to win.

But this remains speculation, of course, and we will only know the truth of the matter once official announcements are made. Those should come soon.

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