As was exclusively revealed by MCN on Tuesday, Kawasaki has just finally made an official announcement in Germany about the signing of current Suzuki rider John Hopkins for the 2008 MotoGP world championship.
The American will quit Suzuki after five years to ride a factory ZX-RR in 2008, having signed a signed a two-year contract with Kawasaki.
Before today's announcement on the eve of the German GP at the Sachsenring, Kawasaki had remained tight-lipped about the capture of Hopkins for next season. Suzuki boss Paul Denning though did confirm Hopkins' departure earlier this week when MCN broke the story.
Kawasaki boss Michael Bartholemy said: "We have had our eye on John for some time, so we didn't hesitate to open negotiations with him as soon as we heard he was considering his options for the next two years. The discussions have not been easy, as John is probably the most sought after rider in the paddock at the moment, but we are happy that, of all the options open to him next year, he finally chose to join Kawasaki.
"John has both the ability and the determination to win races but, before this year, he maybe hasn't had the machinery necessary. I'm confident that the combination of John Hopkins and Kawasaki's ZX-RR will be a potent one next year, and we're looking forward to seeing John realise both his and Kawasaki's full potential.
"John"s decision to join Kawasaki for the next two years is a clear indication of just how far we've come with the new team infrastructure and the 800cc ZX-RR. Just 12 months ago we wouldn't have been in a position to attract a rider of John's calibre, but the situation is very different now."
Kawasaki also confirmed that it expected to announce its full 2008 rider line-up after next weekend's American MotoGP race at Laguna Seca in California, with Loris Capirossi still one of the favourites. Marco Melandri and Chris Vermeulen have also been locked in negotiations with Kawasaki management.
Bartholemy added: "Signing two top riders to campaign our bike in 2008 was always one of Kawasaki's primary goals for this year, and thanks mainly to the trust shown in our team by our colleagues in Japan, we are close to achieving this target before the mid-season break."