MotoGP Exclusive: Chaz Davies in contention for Kawasaki wild card

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Daytona 200 winner Chaz Davies is facing an anxious wait to find out whether he will land a dream wild card slot with Kawasaki’s factory MotoGP team in the two American races later this season.

British rider Davies has emerged as a shock contender to ride a third ZX-RR in the Laguna Seca and Indianapolis races following the multiple injuries suffered by leading wild card candidate Roger Lee Hayden.

If Hayden hasn’t recovered from the back and pelvis injuries he suffered in a Supersport crash at the Barber Motorsports Park last month in time for Laguna on July 20, 2008 Davies will be drafted in to join John Hopkins and Anthony West.

“There has been some tentative talks but nothing more than that,” Davies told MCN in a phone call from California on Saturday.

“I think it is quite a long shot but there is some talks and I’d definitely jump at the chance to ride in MotoGP again.”

Kawasaki bosses haven’t spoken directly with Davies yet. But factory team boss Michael Bartholemy has discussed his possible inclusion for Laguna and Indianapolis with Bob Moore, who as well as being Davies’ personal manager, he also represents factory MotoGP rider Hopkins.

The deal though is also subject to Kawasaki committing to run a third ZX-RR in the American races. Kawasaki is currently discussing the option of running a third bike, with budget issues the main constraint, unless current factory team backers and American energy drink Monster stump up the cash.

Davies, who rides for the Attack Kawasaki squad, confirmed that his participation is totally dependent on money and Hayden’s fitness, though he would have no problems in being released from his AMA deal to accept the ride should he get an offer.

“My contract is direct with Kawasaki in America so I can’t imagine it being a problem. I should know more in a couple of weeks.

“Roger is in a bit of a poor state but he’s got a couple of months to get fit. He could be good but I’ll see how it pans out.”

Kawasaki’s factory team boss Michael Bartholemy told MCN: “The third bike for the American races depends totally on the money. We are investigating the options now, but one possibility is that Monster could be involved.

“Roger Lee was the obvious choice as he raced for us in Laguna Seca last year but if he is not fit then another option is Chaz.”

If Davies does land the Kawasaki ZX-RR ride, it will be his second chance to impress in MotoGP.

When Alex Hofmann suffered a serious left hand injury in Laguna Seca last season, Chaz Davies was drafted in at the 11th hour to ride the German’s D’Antin Ducati.

The Spanish squad also called him up later in the year to race in Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia, but he had a tough time and didn’t actually score a point in his four appearances.

He still did enough to impress Ducati bosses but rejected a testing role with the Bologna factory to pursue his racing career in America.

Davies added: “It would be interesting to see what the Kawasaki is like. Having rode the Ducati last year I’d be keen to try something that might be an easier beast to tame.

“It has been interesting to see the results so far this season because more than ever the Ducati looks like a bike that only Casey (Stoner) can get on top of.

“It is obviously an intricate bike and you either click with it or you don’t, and the results of Marco (Melandri) and Toni (Elias) show how tough it is to ride that bike.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt