Ten Kate Racing BV, the private limited company housing the Ten Kate Racing team's racing activities, has been declared bankrupt by a Dutch court. The Ten Kate team had been forced to file for bankruptcy after last-minute attempts to put together a WorldSBK effort for 2019 had failed.
Ten Kate placed the blame for the bankruptcy squarely on Honda. The Dutch racing team had started out competing on Honda Supersport bikes, a natural choice given the team was a spin off of Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate's Honda motorcycle dealership in Nieuwleusen, in the east of The Netherlands.
Despite racing in both the World Supersport and World Superbike championships, and winning titles in both classes, the team never received much backing from Honda, and none at all from HRC in Japan for most of their existence, support coming from Honda Europe, the European distributor. Ten Kate were never HRC's choice, and so when HRC decided to make a return to the championship, they were always going to want to make their own choice about which structure to use.
The fact that Ten Kate only found on 30th October that HRC had chosen Althea and Moriwaki to partner with for the 2019 season, and HRC would not be providing any support for the Dutch team next year, mean that it was impossible to find other alternatives at such short notice. Contacts with other manufacturers faltered, and they could not find the necessary budget to continue in their present condition.
That situation has forced Ten Kate to consider legal steps to address the situation
In the press release - show below - Ten Kate expressed their desire to keep racing in the World Superbike championship, hopefully in 2019, but otherwise in 2020. That is contingent on a lot of other factors, of course.
The announcement was met with almost universal shock, and with enormous sadness. Jonathan Rea, who raced for the Ten Kate team between 2008 and 2014, had many kind words to say about the team, and the people involved. "It’s really sad," Rea said at the Jerez test. "I’m gutted for both Ronald and Gerrit. They’ve put their heart and soul into the Honda brand and now a curveball decision has put them in this decision. I’m gutted for Ronald and Gerrit and all the guys."
"I feel really bad for the team because when Honda undervalued WorldSBK and didn’t support the championship it was Ten Kate that stepped up," Rea said. "They sourced engine development with Cosworth and developed their electronics strategies and invested a lot in swingarm and chassis developments. That’s hard for the team to accept because when HRC decide to play suddenly Ten Kate get left aside. When I was there I was always keen to say it was a private team. I spent a lot of time there and the team has a soft spot in my heart."
The structure of the company is such that the bankruptcy of Ten Kate Racing BV has no effect on either the Ten Kate Honda dealership, nor on the Ten Kate Racing Products company, which supplies specialist racing parts.
The press release from Ten Kate appears below:
Honda World Superbike team comes to an abrupt end
Nieuwleusen, November 27th 2018
Ten Kate Racing BV, the company that for 18 years has been responsible for Honda’s racing activities in the World Superbike and World Supersport series, during which time the team won 10 world championship titles, has today been declared bankrupt.
This sad situation is the direct result of very late notification given to Ten Kate Racing that Honda wished to end its association with the Dutch firm. Honda stated that it wished instead to continue its activities with two other companies who would assume responsibility for the company’s technical and logistics requirements in the World Superbike championship. This notification was given to the management of Ten Kate Racing on October 30th 2018 with no earlier indication or further explanation.
Until the last race of the 2018 World Superbike season, on October 27th in Qatar, the relationship between Honda and Ten Kate Racing was ‘business as usual’, with staffing, technical development, winter testing and all other aspects of the team operation for the following season discussed in detail and with most of the important decisions already made.
Indeed, the biggest question mark was the level of technical support from Honda and the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) in Japan. A visit from HRC representatives in April to the Ten Kate Racing workshop in Nieuwleusen made it clear that, after many years, the team would no longer be solely responsible for the development of engines, chassis and electronics and that technical support would be forthcoming from the factory. Honda’s decision to stop the co-operation therefore came as a complete surprise and went totally against all the team’s expectations and beliefs.
During recent years, a clear understanding between Ten Kate Racing management and Honda established that any notification of a desire to terminate collaboration between the two parties would need to be made early (i.e. before the World Superbike championship’s summer break). This would allow Ten Kate Racing to explore opportunities for co-operation with other manufacturers and, in a worst case scenario, to manage human resources and potential redundancies within the team. During ongoing discussions Ten Kate Racing also made clear its willingness to become a logistics partner in the event that Honda wished to return to the World Superbike championship as a factory team.
Since receiving notification from Honda on October 30th, the management of Ten Kate Racing has, of course, had many conversations with other manufacturers and sponsors. However, as was feared by the team, World Superbike budgets and machinery were already fully allocated by the beginning of November.
While it was clear that there was genuine, high-level interest from a number of manufacturers, the timing was wrong. Consequently, it appears that Ten Kate Racing has been put in check-mate consciously by the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer. Pending legal proceedings relating to this situation, Ten Kate will make no further comments at this time. The team’s management will, however, continue to work on plans to race at world championship level, hopefully for (part of) the 2019 season, but otherwise for 2020.
Gerrit and Ronald ten Kate wish to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of every single member of the team over the last 18 years and to thank them for the huge successes and championship wins that those efforts have made possible.
The Ten Kate organisation also wishes to state that the end of its co-operation with Honda in World Superbikes will have no effect on the Honda dealership in Nieuwleusen or the Ten Kate Racing Products and Tuning department.