The first news of Kawasaki’s plan to end factory support for off road racing came out yesterday. At this point the current riders have confirmed the news that they are all out of rides for next year. The word is that Kawasaki spent all the Monster Energy budget on resigning Ryan Villopoto to a three year, multi million dollar deal for motocross.
It is a sad state of affairs for enduro racing in the United States. What little money there is concentrated right at the top, so the loss of one sponsor or team has a big impact on the sport as a whole. As for the Kawasaki situation, I can only hope that by cutting the factory team, they might expand their assistance to support riders. The Team Green program has a long history of helping riders at a grass roots level. But that has faded in the past few years too, as the company focused more on the small factory squad.
This is just one more case of trying understand the reasoning of the Japanese bike makers. Like Suzuki, Kawasaki has no real enduro models to sell. So it is simply a case of deciding what efforts will sell more KX models, motocross or regional off road racing.
For many years Larry Roeseler was synonymous with Kawasaki’s Team Green success.