No news is good news, the old saying runs, and never has that been truer than for MotoGP fans after Honda CEO Takeo Fukui's end-of-year speech. Reports in the Spanish media - emanating mostly from the magazine Solo Moto - had suggested that Fukui would seize that opportunity to announce Honda's withdrawal from MotoGP. But fortunately for MotoGP fans - and for the MotoGP series - Fukui announced no such thing.
His speech certainly contained a lot of bad news: Delays in bringing a number of new factories into production; Confirmation of Honda's withdrawal from F1; Cancellation of some model development; Even cutting of salaries and reviews of bonuses for senior Honda management. But no word on the future of MotoGP.
While this is not quite confirmation that Honda will be staying, a lot of the announcements once again reaffirmed the importance of motorcycles in Honda's business strategy. Motorcycle sales were overall much stronger than Honda's car sales, growing 12% where car sales were flat, and are expected to grow by another 10.5% next year, where Honda expects car sales to fall by 7% in the same period. Fukui was emphatic: "History shows that motorcycles remain strong in a difficult market environment and have always supported Honda in difficult times."
So it seems like our friends over at the Italian site GPOne.com got it right when they said that they believed the stories (including the stories reported here) claiming Honda would pull out of MotoGP were nonsense. Even Valentino Rossi says that Honda will be staying, so our worst fears have allayed.