The faltering global economy continues to take its toll on motorcycle racing paddocks around the world. Today, the GSE Racing team announced that unless they can find a title sponsor, they will be forced to close up shop and quit BSB next season. Despite winning the last two BSB titles - with Shane Byrne in 2008 and Leon Camier in 2009 - GSE lost their title sponsor Airwaves (a brand of chewing gum) at the end of the 2009 season, and GSE boss Colin Wright has so far failed to find a replacement. The failure to find funding has meant that the team has been forced to notify all of their current staff that they are likely to lose their jobs at the end of the year.
While not finding a sponsor has put the continuity of the team at risk, paddock rumors suggest that the team has become a victim of its own ambition. The team had a long and successful partnership with Ducati, which has brought them several championships and helped make household names of riders such as Troy Bayliss, Neil Hodgson, Gregorio Lavilla, Shane Byrne, Chris Walker, Leon Haslam and James Toseland. But after plans to enter the World Superbike championship in 2009 fell through, when Ducati refused to make factory-spec 1198 F09s available, the team decided to switch to Yamaha's new R1 and stay in BSB. While the results were favorable - the team won all but 3 of the 26 BSB races held - the costs involved in running the team were much higher, with Yamahas reportedly costing over 60% more to buy and run. Without a title sponsor, those costs were unsustainable, regardless of results.
The team's hopes are not completely gone, but one month is not much time to find a sponsor willing to make a serious investment in a national racing series. Even titles are no guarantee of survival in the current harsh financial climate, it seems.