The latest in the Kawasaki Moto GP soap opera — they’re in, they’re out, no they’re in — comes in a press release from Kawasaki dated February 25 saying they’ll enter Moto GP in 2009 after all. But with just one bike, to be ridden by Marco Melandri. It sounds like Kawasaki Heavy Industries has decided this would be cheaper than the legal hassles and potential payouts to series owner Dorna if they stuck to their guns and walked away.
The press release reads:
Kawasaki announces that after constructive talks between Kawasaki, Dorna and other involved parties, a new one-rider Team will participate in the 2009 MotoGP Championship season.
This decision was made after negotiations that followed Kawasaki’s January 2009 announcement to suspend its factory supported MotoGP activities due to the economic crisis. Rider for the new MotoGP team will be the Italian Marco Melandri.
The team will be equipped with Kawasaki motorcycles and supporting materials.
That Kawasaki has come to this new team approach is the result of on the one hand the need for a strong reduction of MotoGP racing investments and on the other hand the necessity to come to constructive solutions for all related parties.
The new team will disclose more details about its 2009 season’s plans on a short notice.
Melandri seems less than keen on the whole deal. According to the Italian press, Melandri wrote on his Facebook site "for the moment, we will test the bike at Losail, we will see whether it’s going to be worth racing the bike after the test: if the bike’s a disaster, we will all go home."
Maybe Melandri is still pumped over his Speedcar debut (where he led his second-ever race until the transmission kacked) and sees himself in a pretty good position no matter what happens.
Still not a peep from, or about, John Hopkins, supposedly the senior rider at Kawasaki.