Another chapter has been added to the long-running Haojue / Maxtra saga, with the team announcing that it has torn up the contract it had with former Aprilia two-stroke guru Jan Witteveen. The relationship had been rocky for a very long time, with sources close to Witteveen reporting multiple times that the Dutch engineer wanted nothing to do with the project, and had scaled back his involvement just to supply parts. Witteveen's reluctance has now caused the team to draw a line under the relationship, and issue a very public and very damning press release announcing that they were terminating Witteveen's contract to develop the engine.
The language used in the press release is harsh, and reflects the bitterness at the way the project has progressed. Haojue decided to skip this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, in order to focus on engine development in the hope of returning with a more competitive bike. Whether the team will be at Barcelona in two weeks' time for the Catalunya Grand Prix is not yet known, as the question remains over who is to develop the bike. Harris, the company building the chassis, have been working on the airbox for the bike, though so far failing to deliver the huge gains the project needs to be competitive. Meanwhile, Ilmor has indicated an interest in being involved in the project, and taking on the engine development.
The statement from the team is shown below:
"Jan Witteveen was contracted to deliver a state-of-the-art, race competitive 125cc GP engine and continue its development over a three year period.
However, after 18 months of development it is clear from the engine's lack of performance in the early 2009 GP events, where the Haojue riders have either failed to qualify or sometimes crashed due to engine failure, that the engine is neither race competitive nor reliable.
As well as the continued lack of performance and the reliability problems which make the machine potentially dangerous for the Team Haojue riders and other riders on the track at the same time, the Haojue team management has been deeply concerned by the lack of progress and communication from Witteveen on plans to overcome the problems."