Indianapolis MotoGP: Kawasaki confirm Marco Melandri swoop

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Kawasaki has confirmed that Italian rider Marco Melandri will join John Hopkins in its factory squad for the 2009 MotoGP world championship.

As was exclusively revealed by MCN four weeks ago in Brno, Melandri has signed a two-year deal to ride a ZX-RR, replacing axed Aussie Anthony West.

Melandri was released only a year into a two-year deal with Ducati after a run of miserable results on the GP8, and he will make his Kawasaki debut during a two-day test session after the final round in Valencia.

"We started talking to Marco about riding for Kawasaki at the beginning of 2007, but contractual obligations on his part meant that it wasn't possible to secure his services for this season,"said Kawasaki Competition Manager, Michael Bartholemy.

"Since that time we've kept in close contact with Marco's management company, which meant we were able to reopen negotiations immediately we heard that he would be available in 2009.

"This has been a tough year for Marco, but it's obvious when you speak to him that he's lost none of the drive and determination that have so far brought him five race wins and fourteen podium finishes in the premier class, despite suffering results this season that don't truly reflect his talent.

"I'm confident that Marco will adapt quickly to Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR and that, together with John, he'll be able to take us to the next level with the development of the all-new 2009 bike.

"What is certain is that, with Marco and John, we will go into 2009 with our strongest rider line-up since Kawasaki made their full-time return to the premier class in 2002.

"Now we need to translate this strength and experience into improving our results, with achieving our first race win in MotoGP obviously the major goal,”said Bartholemy.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt