Table of contents:
- Kawasaki spends ten times less to win in Superbikes than it costs to race in MotoGP
- Kawasaki already failed in MotoGP and BMW is not even competitive in SBK
- To compete in MotoGP, in addition to money, you need a lot of development time
The MotoGP World Championship is going through one of its sweetest moments of recent times in terms of equality. In the preseason of this 2020 we saw that the six world championship brands, Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM and Aprilia, were very even. Dorna's rules for the benefit of slower bikes have paid off.
Faced with this situation, a question always arises: Why don't Kawasaki and BMW make the leap and also compete in the MotoGP World Championship? Both brands are racing superbikes with great success for the Japanese and with notable progress for the Germans. However, neither Kawasaki nor BMW are considering racing in MotoGP.
Kawasaki spends ten times less to win in Superbikes than it costs to race in MotoGP
Before thinking about why there are brands that do not want to race in MotoGP, we should explain what those that do are looking for. Mainly one thing: sell more motorcycles. Advertising, marketing and prestige. That users know how this brand makes motorcycles and trust it when buying one.
Yes, the competition too it is a means of technological development, but it is assumed that it is very inefficient. Because in addition to investing in the motorcycle, you have to pay for other things that have nothing to do with the matter. Travel, circuits, riders, hotels, registration and many other expenses derived from the competition that do not improve the bike at all.
Racing in MotoGP is very expensive, ten times more than doing it in Superbikes, and that is the main impediment for Kawasaki and BMW to enter the premier class of motorcycles. In order not to make a fool of yourself in MotoGP you need a minimum budget of 60 or 70 million euros. Honda spends almost 100 to be champion in recent years.
Kawasaki takes five consecutive World Superbikes with a budget of 8 million of euros per year. Going to MotoGP is a leap into the void economically without having any assurance that this is going to bring you a real advertising benefit. That is, you can spend more money to race in MotoGP than the extra bikes that you are going to sell for it.
In short, it is not profitable for Kawasaki to stop winning in Superbikes for 8 million euros a year to be the last in MotoGP spending ten times more. Let's not forget that in the category of series-derived motorcycles there are also Honda, Ducati and Yamaha all bow their heads in the face of Kawasaki's dominance.
Those from Iwata live more comfortably in the "if Kawasaki raced in MotoGP, it would win" than by going there to prove otherwise. Also, let us remember that although not in Europe, there are countries where Superbikes are as followed or more than MotoGP. For example, in Southeast Asia, a not inconsiderable motorcycle market.
Kawasaki manages every year to be the third best-selling motorcycle brand globally, behind Honda and Yamaha. They are comfortable with their position and they know that racing in MotoGP not only would not make them surpass the ones in front of them, but it could make them look bad compared to a brand behind them.
So in Kawasaki are in charge of saying by active and passive that they will not return to MotoGP, as much as Jonathan Rea was excited and as much as the rumors said that the possibility of doing a wild card with the Kawasaki ZX-10RR of Superbikes was considered. That would be neither serious nor competitive. Bad publicity.
Kawasaki already failed in MotoGP and BMW is not even competitive in SBK
Remember that Kawasaki was already competing in MotoGP as an official team. They entered at the end of 2002, almost at the same time as Ducati, but with very different results. Those from Iwata didn't even win a race until they left in 2009 after the economic crisis. Five podiums in seven and a half seasons was the poor balance.
Kawasaki strengthened its commitment to Superbikes and the investment has paid off. Since then, the greens have won six of the ten World Cups that have been contested, the last five consecutively. They have completely dominated the decade. They have gone from being a team that spends a lot to finish last in MotoGP to a team that spends little to win in Superbikes.
In the case of BMW, its presence in the World Championship has been testimonial, and never as an official team. Ever seen some BMW participating in the old 500cc class, but always in the hands of a private person. MotoGP has never interested the Germans more than to appear with the Safety Car.
In fact, before considering such high heights, BMW would have to be truly competitive in Superbikes. In series-derived motorcycles, equality is also great, but today the BMW project is the youngest and, therefore, the one with the worst results. And that they have a figure like Tom Sykes.
To compete in MotoGP, in addition to money, you need a lot of development time
In short, it is a simple matter of preferences on the part of the brands. For instance, Aprilia and Suzuki have left the Superbike World Championship to get fully into MotoGP. But although they entered at the same time, things are very different for them. Those from Hamamatsu have already won races and are in a position to fight for the title. Italians are the worst on the grill.
The KTM example is very clear. They have a very important budget deposited in their MotoGP project, but after three seasons they have not won a race. They only have a podium, and it was in a race with rain. In addition to money, it takes experience and many years of development to have a competent structure.
Right now, entering MotoGP is not a guarantee of success or sport or business for either of the two brands. Kawasaki lived it in their own meats at the beginning of the century, while BMW has never embarked on such an adventure as building a prototype for MotoGP. They already have their clientele and their brand secured, an investment like this without an assured return does not compensate them.
The cards are dealt. Dorna has not been working on incorporating Kawasaki and BMW for some time. They have made their decision and it is away from the prototypes. MotoGP struggles to consolidate its six brands and maintain them in an expensive business that not everyone wants to pay. At least for now. There will always be time for Kawasaki and BMW to change needs.