Shinya Nakano to clinch shock Kawasaki deal?

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Kawasaki is desperately trying to formulate an 11th hour rescue package to save a third factory ZX-RR deal from collapse, with Shinya Nakano lined up for the ride.

A deal which had looked certain to proceed, with Kawasaki leasing a third machine to Spaniard Jorge Martinez, appeared to have crumbled at last weekend’s Twin Ring Motegi race after a sudden change of heart by senior Japanese management.

But MotoGP team boss Michael Bartholemy held lengthy talks with Kawasaki President Shinichi Tamba in Japan in an attempt to salvage a deal.

And in a dramatic late twist, MCN understands that plans for Martinez to run a Spanish rider at the request of Spanish investors funding his project, will be vetoed by Kawasaki.

If the project is given the go-ahead following further crunch meetings at Kawasaki’s Japanese headquarters this week, then the rider will be current Gresini Honda star Nakano.

Before the revelation about Kawasaki’s insistence on fielding Nakano on the bike, Martinez had been looking at Alex Debon, Carlos Checa and Sete Gibernau as options after Toni Elias shunned the deal to move back to the Gresini Honda squad.

A source told MCN: “Before the Motegi race, there was a 0.1 per cent chance of this deal happening. But there were several meetings over that weekend and now it looks like there is a 50 per cent chance. There has been a big swing back in favour of the project, which had looked dead and buried. A final decision will be taken this week.”

The final decision should be communicated to Kawasaki’s MotoGP squad on Friday at the Australian GP in Phillip Island.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt