Jorge Martinez baffled by Toni Elias rejection

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Jorge Martinez has spoken of his shock at Toni Elias’s decision to shun a third factory Kawasaki machine to re-join the Gresini Honda squad in 2009.

Elias was the leading target for Martinez to ride the third ZX-RR and he believed a deal was close to being finalised.

Martinez had pinned his Kawasaki project around Elias having failed to persuade Alvaro Bautista to move up from the 250 class.

But Elias’s surprise move had forced Martinez into a major re-think, with a host of names now linked with the third ZX-RR the former world 125 champion plans to lease off Kawasaki.

Although he denied needing a Spanish rider to appease Spanish investors backing his first sojourn into MotoGP, Sete Gibernau, Carlos Checa and Alex Debon have all been linked with the project. And he may still try and persuade Bautista to change his mind about staying in 250s.

Shinya Nakano is also an option as Elias’s Gresini switch has left the Japanese rider out in the cold.

“I really don’t understand Toni’s decision", Martinez told MCN. “I had offered him a two-year deal on what I believe is a very good factory bike, but he has taken a ride in a satellite team. Now I have to consider other options.

"For me it is better to have a Spanish rider and somebody with experience, which is why Toni was a very good option. Now I will look at Alex Debon, Sete and possibly some others.”

Martinez said Elias’s refusal did not alter his MotoGP ambitions and his immediate priority is to clinch a three-year deal with Kawasaki before or at the Japanese GP later this month.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt