Marco Melandri will be the sole Kawasaki rider in 2009
Marco Melandri to race in one man Kawasaki team
26 February 2009 12:58
Italian Marco Melandri will race in the 2009 MotoGP world championship as part of a one-man Kawasaki team.
Kawasaki confirmed its plans to quit MotoGP in January because of the global economic crisis, but after negotiations involving Kawasaki and MotoGP bosses Dorna, an agreement has been reached for the Japanese factory to field a one rider team.
Marco Melandri was due to decide his future based on the results of the upcoming Qatar MotoGP test where he will test the new 2009 ZX-RR for the first time. Former world 250 champion Melandri was understood to have wanted to test the bike first to check its competitiveness before making a final decision on whether he felt it was worth continuing.
The new team will be headed up by former Technical Director Ichiro Yoda, with 2008 factory team boss Michael Bartholemy no longer involved.
Most people believe Kawasaki has committed to race one ZX-RR machine in 2009 to avoid a potential £20m fine off Dorna for breach of contract.
Melandri's deal though means Kawasaki could potentially face legal action from American John Hopkins, who has a contract to race with the Japanese factory in 2009.
Hopkins is unsure of his 2009 prospects, trhough he has been linked with a ridein Leon Haslam's Stiggy Honda World Superbike outfit.