Kawasaki is investigating the possibility of running a three-rider factory team in the 2008 MotoGP world championship, MCN can reveal.
In a bid to bolster dwindling grid numbers, Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has issued financial incentives to get Kawasaki and Suzuki to extend their premier class involvement beyond the two-rider factory teams they currently enter.
Suzuki is currently locked in discussion with Spaniard Jorge Martinez about a third bike lease deal, and now Kawasaki bosses have confirmed they are conducting an internal feasibility study on running a third bike.
Unlike Suzuki though, Kawasaki’s proposed third ZX-RR would be kept under the direct control of the factory team and not supplied to a satellite team.
Kawasaki boss Michael Bartholemy confirmed the discussions to MCN at last weekend’s Italian GP in Mugello.
He said: “We have had meetings with Carmelo about a third bike and that is normal.
“We are talking about this internally now. It will not be possible to have a satellite team in 2008. The only possibility, and this has not yet been finalised, is to have a third bike in the factory team.
“A third bike in the factory team in terms of logistics and technicians, for example, is easier to handle than when you have to supply all the material to a satellite team. But we are looking at this idea now.”
Bartholemy, who is in hot pursuit of several big name riders for 2008 including Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri, John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen, said a final decision had to be taken by the Czech Republic GP in Brno in August.
One proposal is that the third bike for next season will be a 2007 spec machine, fitted with selected new ’08 performance parts.
“After Brno it will be too late. If we do a three-rider team in-house we could use 2007 material so there is no pressure from a satellite team to have 2008 material and new parts all of the time. This gives us the chance to build ourselves a future.”