Kawasaki scrap third ZX-RR plan for 2009

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Kawasaki boss Michael Bartholemy has confirmed to MCN that the Japanese factory will not field a third ZX-RR machine in 2009.

A proposed deal with current Aprilia 125 and 250 team boss Jorge Martinez has collapsed after the Spaniard was reluctant to run Shinya Nakano on the third Kawasaki.

Kawasaki senior management had only agreed to field the third bike on condition that Nakano was the rider for next season. But that move meant that Martinez’s Spanish sponsor would commit less money to fund the project.

With Kawasaki unable to fill the financial shortfall, the project has been abandoned, leaving only the two-rider factory team with John Hopkins and new recruit Marco Melandri.

Martinez had wanted to run current Aprilia 250GP rider Alex Debon on the bike after Toni Elias turned down a deal to rejoin the Gresini Honda squad next season.

Bartholemy said: “I am disappointed because I think this was a missed opportunity for both of us. We have worked hard to get this third bike on the grid to help move Kawasaki forward and also to get Aspar into MotoGP. Unfortunately we have not been able to reach an agreement and it looks like the project is cancelled.”

The decision leaves Nakano out in the cold after he was axed by Fausto Gresini to make way for Elias. He might now have to take up a testing and development role with HRC.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt