Sete Gibernau close to signing Ducati deal

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Sete Gibernau has confirmed he is on the brink of clinching a deal to ride a fifth Ducati in next season’s MotoGP world championship.

The deal, which will see the Spaniard step out of retirement to ride in a squad spearheaded by legend Angel Nieto, could be confirmed at this weekend’s Indianapolis race in America.

Gibernau met with key personnel involved in the new venture in Madrid a week ago but he has still denied publicly at least that he has already a deal.

But he said he was ’60 per cent sure’ he would be on a fifth bike, though MCN understands the deal is done.

Ducati has a fifth bike available with the soon to be confirmed switch to a one-make tyre rule for 2009 ending the need for a test team. Ducati had already ordered parts so put the bike up for lease if any prospective team could meet the lease price.

Gibernau has already extensively tested the GP9, which features a radical carbon fibre chassis, before this year, and he’s expressed his desire to return after he quit at the end of an injury-blighted 2006 campaign.

He said: “For me I want this to finish in something good because I am looking forward to coming back. But I want things to be done in a correct way and if I come back it is because I am sure I can be competitive.

"I don’t know how competitive I will be until I’m back. I don’t have any need to come back, so if I do it has to be the right way. The project has to be something that I can identify with, but also it has to let me have fun racing again. If with all the things together we can get good results then this would be great, but I have to be attracted by the offer.

"For sure it is a real option and everybody is thinking about it. I have my feet on the floor and when I heard that everything is done I laughed, because nothing has been officially signed yet.”

Gibernau though also hinted that he might still have some option with Honda, though his preference is Ducati having been given chance to test for the Bologna factory earlier this season.

Gibernau has been in discussions with his old Gresini Honda squad, while JIR Honda boss Gianluca Montiron recently confirmed to MCN that the nine-time MotoGP winner was on his shortlist to replace Andrea Dovizioso.

He added: “It seems all the bikes (Ducati) will be the same for every team at the start of the season. Also with Honda I think I could have an option for a factory bike in a satellite team, but we are still talking.”

Gibernau though will insist on having his former crew chief Juan Martinez link up with him again to help him instantly get back on the pace. Martinez is currently Anthony West’s crew chief in Kawasaki’s struggling factory team.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt