Following an announcement by Honda at the end of the final JCF race series this weekend in Japan, it can be confirmed that Team G Cross Honda will not be continuing.
23 Degrees Sports Management, the company hired by the Honda Racing Corporation to manage the international mountain bike race activities for the company, confirms today that the program will have no future beyond 2007.
According to the statement released by Honda Racing Corporation:
"First of all, we want to express our gratitude to Team Director Martin Whiteley, riders Greg Minnaar, Matti Lehikoinen, Brendan Fairclough, and Cyrille Kurtz, and the talented technical staff of 23 Degrees for their complete understanding and cooperation to the challenge; realizing a completely new and world class race category for Honda.
"As a motorcycle manufacturer, we had achieved the approach of this challenge by applying our technology which has been cultivated by our motorcycle development, and getting some feedback to our motorcycle technology is one of the purposes of our entry into the downhill mountain bike racing activity. The original "RN01" technology for example, frame and suspension, was designed utilizing off-road motorcycle technology, including a very special centrally mounted gearbox that is able to change shift at any time; these were improved repeatedly, and were completed as we expected and hoped it would when we started this project back in 2000. The correctness of direction, and our approach, has been validated by the fact that we have been the number one international team for the past 2 years, and proven by the race results including acquisition of the Norba title (2004) and World Cup title (2005).
"Again, we wish to express our gratitude to all team members and persons related to this project, and want all members of the team to continue aiming at success in all the challenges that lie before them. We deeply appreciate the cooperation and warm guidance we received as a company from both the race scene and the bicycle industry, allowing us to learn a lot over these years, and of course, we greatly appreciate and respect the warm and sincere appreciation of our efforts by the fans of Team G Cross Honda, which was obvious at every race we attended."
Statement from 23 Degrees Sports Management CEO Martin Whiteley:
"Team G Cross Honda has been a very important part of the international race scene over the past 4 years, and the successes have been well documented. However, I think the greatest success of the project has been the way in which it has asked the participants (riders, fans, media, sponsors) to look at our sport in a different light, and to think outside the box when it comes to race technology and the approach to racing. As a company we are indeed indebted to the Honda Racing Corporation for having the confidence in our abilities to carry out their objectives. We are also extremely appreciative of the co-sponsors that joined in with our efforts, namely Alpinestars, Maxxis, Showa, Formula, Mavic, Funn, SDG, Sram, Motorex, Sapim, PowerBar, Chris King and ODI.
"I also want to pay a particular tribute to the talented riders and staff who have formed part of the World Team since 2004. Namely Greg Minnaar, Matti Lehikoinen, Brendan Fairclough and Cyrille Kurtz, as well as mechanics Mike Van Zyl, Mark Maurissen and Adam Bonney, Road Manager Paul Schlitz and Photographer Gary Perkin. Their contributions have been invaluable."