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GP Week : Issue 49
>>Moto GPnews Haojue sacks engine designer “We will be back ...”pledges team chief THE so-far ill-starred Chinese- backed Haojue Team may be back before the end of the season, with a different power unit and an altered chassis. Team Director Garry Taylor confirmed the situation days after the news broke last week that engine designer Jan Witteveen’s contract had been terminated. The latest twist in a saga that began in a blaze of publicity at last year’s Chinese GP is the consequence of continuing below-par performance from Witteveen’s purpose-designed inverted-cylinder 125 GP motor, as well as dangerously bad reliability. Riders Michael Ranseder and rookie Matt Hoyle had struggled from the start. Ranseder qualified for the first three rounds, but has completed only three racing laps, at Qatar; Hoyle qualified only for the first, but was injured and did not start. The machine has suffered a series of crashes triggered by engine seizes. The team, patronised by Digital Caption racing legend John Surtees, withdrew from the fifth round at Mugello, and will now miss at least the next three races as well. Taylor said they had been left with little option but to terminate the contract because of the poor performance, and because of the safety implications, “not only for our riders, but also anyone else on the track with us. “We had an 18-month engine design and build contract with Jan Witteveen, followed by three-year supply contract, including trackside support and engine development. Our hopes were based on his huge reputation.”(Dutchman Witteveen was chief designer at Aprilia, bringing the Italian firm to the forefront of 250 and 125 racing.) “We didn’t expect to be winning races out of the box, but we did expect his group to give us an engine that was at least safe and reliable, and capable of being rapidly developed into a competitive unit.” After four races, there was no sign of any significant improvement, said Taylor, in spite of having two engine specialists embedded in the team. “Things are in the balance, and you can imagine there is a lot of communication with Haojue in China, but we remain committed,” said Taylor, adding he was expecting to resolve matters in the near future. 19