The road to the 125 World Championship has been long and hard for the Haojue team. First, they were forced to change their name from Maxtra, due to trademark conflicts earlier this year. Since then, there have been persistent reports of problems between the UK-based team run by Garry Taylor and Jan Witteveen, the man responsible for engine development. Adding to the team's troubles is a continuing lack of results, with both Matthew Hoyle and Michael Ranseder either failing to start or failing to qualify at Japan, Jerez and Le Mans.
The problem is down to a huge lack of top speed - as much as 22 km/h, according to team principal Garry Taylor. With the bikes so uncompetitive, the team have decided to skip the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello to focus on development. "The early GP results show that we are not yet competitive, so we have decided to concentrate our resources on developing and improving the situation," Garry Taylor said. Currently, the plan is to miss just the Italian round, but the race after at Barcelona is also at risk, the track, like Mugello, having a very high-speed front straight, precisely the area the team is weakest.
Haojue's withdrawal will fuel the speculation surrounding the split with Witteveen. The team has continually denied any rift, but Witteveen has been cited in the German press as having reduced his involvement to an absolute minimum, and given the Dutchman's previous record with Aprilia, the lack of performance for Haojue would seem to back this up. The hope must be that by missing the next race or two, the Haojue team will be able to find enough performance to at least get the bike to a point where it is confident of qualifying.