While MotoGP fans around the world are on tenterhooks for news of Kawasaki, the first bits and pieces of news are dribbling out of the MSMA meeting currently being held in Japan. The Italian news sites are on top of the case - possibly thanks to the Italian representation on the MSMA - and the big news is that Kawasaki is currently reconsidering its withdrawal, news of which had leaked shortly after Christmas.
The pressure applied by Dorna appears to have worked, helped along perhaps by the fact that any withdrawal would have cost at least 20 million euros, including fines and money already spent on bikes and rider salaries, according to GPOne.com. Team boss Michael Bartholemy is apparently on his way to Japan to discuss the options with Kawasaki.
The meeting of the manufacturers involved in MotoGP discussed several proposals for cutting costs in MotoGP, including restricting testing even further, and extending engine life, which is put unofficially at around 300km. These would be the only changes possible for the 2009 season, as the teams already have too much invested in their 2009 bikes to make dramatic changes.
For 2010, more radical steps could be taken. First item on the agenda would be a ban on carbon brakes, a move which several team bosses, including Fausto Gresini and Lucio Cecchinello, have called for, as well as more drastic extensions of engine life, with engines to last multiple grand prix weeknds, and yet more restrictions on testing.
A proposal to limit the maximum revs engines could run was rejected, with Ducati's Livio Suppo telling Mediaset. "Most of the work should be left to the manufacturers. They should be able to decide how to make their engines last longer."
The other idea that was rejected was a salary cap. Such a move would be too difficult to enforce, and more likely to see teams finding ways of circumventing the salary cap, rather than holding fast to it, a practice which is often seen in US sports as well.
One thing that the MSMA seems to have missed is that although making engines last longer would reduce costs for shipping them to Japan and back to be stripped and rebuilt, a practice Lucio Cecchinello complained of to MCN, the development costs to make the highly-strung MotoGP engines durable enough to last several races are likely to be astronomical. The idea that the factories would reduce the power outputs of the engines to make them last longer seems unlikely given the history of the manufacturers in MotoGP. And similar measures in Formula 1 have yet to have any discernible impact on costs in that series.
So the Kawasaki saga has been prolonged a little longer. More news is sure to come over the next few days.