Sete Gibernau in frame for fifth Ducati

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Sete Gibernau’s fading hopes of a shock MotoGP return could be saved at the last-minute by Ducati and Spanish legend Angel Nieto.

Gibernau is desperate to return to the premier class despite retiring at the end of 2006, and he had hoped to clinch a deal with Ducati’s satellite squad.

But with the Bologna factory favouring a more youthful line-up, Gibernau’s hopes appeared over.

But Ducati has confirmed it can now supply five bikes in 2009, with parts already ordered for machines that were designated to run in a test and development team.

But the impending introduction of a one-make tyre rule in ’09 means Ducati can scrap is test team to use the bike in competition, providing a team can be found with sufficient funding.

Talks are well advanced with Nieto and a title sponsor, and Gibernau is the preferred rider given his impressive performances in three testing appearances for Ducati earlier this year.

Factory team boss Livio Suppo told MCN a deal could be finalised for the fifth bike this week, which would swell grid numbers to 20, with Kawasaki adding a third ZX-RR next season.

“For the fifth bike we will know more next week. Things are moving and for the rider line-up I am hoping within the next week will have a clearer understanding, “said Suppo.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt