Kawasaki Announces Shock WorldSBK Departure

Kawasaki has announced it will be leaving WorldSBK in 2025, to an extent. A motorcycle with a Kawasaki engine and Bimota chassis will be used

Axel Bassani, 2024 Dutch WorldSBK. - Gold and Goose

There will be no official Kawasakis on the WorldSBK grid in 2025 after the Japanese marque announced its team will merge with the returning Bimota brand.

Provec Racing has run Kawasaki’s factory WorldSBK effort since 2011, and that same squad will run the new Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team programme that the new Bimota motorcycle will be a part of.

Kawasaki’s announcement comes after its star rider, six-times champion Jonathan Rea, left the team over the winter to join Yamaha

Only one of Kawasaki’s 2024 WorldSBK riders, Axel Bassani, has a contract with the team for 2025, meaning he at least will be remaining with the setup through its first year. As for Alex Lowes, who currently sits fourth in the WorldSBK standings, his contract is up at the end of 2024.

The bike will take the Kawasaki ZX-10RR engine and pair it with a chassis built by Bimota. This is not unusual by the standards of the two brands, whose partnership began in 2019 when Kawasaki acquired 49.9 per cent of the company, and has resulted in models such as the Bimota BX450 enduro bike, which is essentially a rebadged Kawasaki KX450 motocross bike, as well as the Bimota Tesi H2, which is basically a Kawasaki H2 with a front swingarm and hub centre steering as is traditional on Bimota Tesi models.

It’s also not strictly new by WorldSBK standards. The last time Bimota was in WorldSBK was 2014 when it ran under the ‘Evo’ regulations of the time, which restricted the motorcycles’ electronics, using its BB3 model that debuted the year before in production form at EICMA. The BB3 used a BMW S1000 RR engine, but Bimota was banned from WorldSBK midway through 2014 because it did not meet the production volume required for homologation.

If Bimota is to enter WorldSBK in 2025, it means a new production motorcycle must be on the way. What it will be called remains to be seen but it will of course use the same Kawasaki ZX-10RR engine as it will run in WorldSBK. The rest of the bike is uncertain: it used a steel trellis frame on the BB3, but the Tesi H2 swaps the steel trellis of the Kawasaki H2 for aluminium plates and uses the engine as a stressed member of the chassis. 

The alternative, perhaps, is that Bimota would take a ZX-10RR, fiddle a bit with chassis stiffness here and there, and change the bodywork to call it a Bimota.

Speaking about the new direction for Kawasaki in WorldSBK, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kawasaki Motors, Hiroshi Ito, said: “Bimota has an enviable reputation for excellence in motorcycle design and manufacture. As part of our vision for the evolution of this world-famous brand we see racing as a logical next step in terms of both product development as well as brand exposure on the global stage. 

Bimota COO, Pierluigi Marconi, added: “The engineering, technology and day-to-day business support already offered by Kawasaki has put Bimota firmly back into the consciousness of the media and potential customers, now it is time to take a next step in our evolution.

“Bimota has had racing as part of its DNA from day one and to compete in WorldSBK alongside developing our new product range, while expanding the European and global dealer network, has an undeniable logic to it.”

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