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Kawasaki ‘pulls out’ of WorldSBK… but Bimota is back!

Kawasaki Superbike 2024

Kawasaki has been the most successful manufacturer in the Superbike World Championship over the past decade, winning seven world titles between 2013 and 2020, but all good things must come to an end and the Japanese company has announced that it will be changing things up in 2025.

After a decade of dominance, the last few seasons have been somewhat leaner for the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) and they even suffered the ignominy of their talismanic leader, six-time back-to-back champion Jonathan Rea, buying his way out of his contract last year in order to go race for great rivals Yamaha. Despite this, the green team has enjoyed a good start to the 2024 campaign, with Alex Lowes currently lying fourth in the standings after winning two races in Australia.

But although the venerable ZX-10RR Ninja will be retired from racing as a factory entry, the Barcelona-based KRT will be rebranded and entered using a new Bimota motorcycle, which will be powered by the Ninja engine.

Bimota has plenty of heritage in the championship, with 11 race wins from the early days of the series. Originally founded as a high-end chassis manufacturer in the 1970s, they reframed Japanese superbike engines of the time to create expensive exotica which handled better than production bikes of the era. They built frames and bikes for the Grand Prix classes, as well as the 1980s Formula One world championship, and the Italian company will forever be in the WorldSBK history books as the winner of the first ever race, at Donington Park in 1988, with their Yamaha powered YB4EI.

As Japanese manufacturers developed their chassis performance, so Bimota became less relevant. The 1990s were a tumultuous time for the company but they did have one last hurrah, when Anthony Gobert won a wet race in Australia in the year 2000, on the otherwise uncompetitive and unreliable SB8K. That bike was powered by a Suzuki TL1000R engine and marked the last time we saw the manufacturer in the class.

In recent years Bimota has become increasingly linked to Kawasaki. The Japanese company purchased a 49% stake in 2019 and the reborn, four-bike, range is exclusively powered by Kawasaki engines. In order to go racing, Bimota will need to develop and build a production run of a new motorcycle, which we know will be powered by the existing ZX-10RR engine.

In a statement, Kawasaki confirmed the race entry will operate under the title of Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team and will utilise the existing factory team structure.

Speaking about the project, Kawasaki President and Chief Executive Officer 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. Our commitment to WorldSBK is as strong as ever and we hope that this new racing project will energise fans of both Bimota and Kawasaki. The passion for race success remains and we look forward to the presence of the Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team on the 2025 WorldSBK grid.” 

KRT Team Manager, Guim Roda, added: “In the past 13 years, myself, and all of those at the KRT workshop in Granollers, have dedicated ourselves wholeheartedly to the Kawasaki superbike project and garnered seven WorldSBK rider titles in that time, plus numerous team and manufacturer awards. Now we are proud to be part of a new era forming the infrastructure of the new Bimota by Kawasaki Racing Team. 

“For sure we will spare some time to reflect on and celebrate the heritage of Kawasaki in superbike racing, but we are also extremely excited to be a core component of this new Bimota and Kawasaki joint venture. This is an evolution for Kawasaki’s approach to the top level of production racing and we are honoured to play our role in this new project. I am confident we have the technology and human resources necessary to succeed and it will be a fresh, energising experience fielding an impressive two rider team in the 2025 Motul FIM WorldSBK Championship."

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