When we ran the story that engine guru Jan Witteveen had pulled out of Sir John Surtees' Maxtra project some three weeks ago, the team, in the person of Garry Taylor, was quick to issue a denial. "Jan is on board," is what Taylor told Motorcycle News. A straight denial to a straight question, and the affair looked to be closed.
But it isn't quite that simple. According to one source who had spoken to Witteveen recently, the Dutch two-stroke guru had lost interest in the project, and didn't want to have any further involvement. And this has been confirmed by the German motorsports website Motorsport-Magazin.com. Witteveen spoke to Motorsport-Magazin.com, and told them that although he was still supplying parts for the 125cc two stroke engine, that's where his involvement ended. Witteveen was doing no more development on the engine, but just sending parts to the team when they ordered them. If the engine was being developed, then the work was being done by the Haojue team (as Maxtra is now known) themselves.
And so it turns out that both stories are true, strictly speaking. Garry Taylor's denial is technically accurate: Witteveen is still "on board". But for all intents and purposes, Witteveen is out. He may still be "on board", but what Witteveen is on board as is a glorified spares warehouse. It's a task that the man who helped Aprilia to so many world championships is easily capable of, but hardly one taxing his abilities to the full.