New twist in Sete Gibernau’s comeback saga
Gibernau had seemed a cast iron certainty to make his comeback with a new Ducati squad backed by Onde 2000 and run by Spanish legend Angel Nieto and his sons.
But the deal has hit a major stumbling block with Gibernau insisting that he is reunited with former crew chief Juan Martinez. The pair were together for all of Gibernau’s nine premier class victories.
Ducati has apparently blocked the move and wants to use its own staff out of Bologna, but the issue has so far prevented Gibernau from committing to the deal.
This has placed Jorge Martinez on red alert as he is still searching for a rider for the third factory Kawasaki ZX-RR he plans to lease in 2009.
Martinez’s plans were thrown into turmoil when Toni Elias told him he was re-joining the Gresini Honda squad at the last race in Indianapolis. With Spanish investment, he is understood to need a Spaniard on board the bike, which saw rumours of Alex Debon, Carlos Checa and Gibernau as possible candidates emerge.
Potentially making a Kawasaki deal easier to push through is the fact that (Juan) Martinez is currently employed by the Japanese factory as Anthony West’s crew chief, and he has another year to run on his contract.
Adding another major twist, there’s also an early rumour in Japan that without Elias, Kawasaki is now reluctant to field the third ZX-RR for another rider.
The latest rumour adds to the intrigue of Gibernau’s future. He thought he was going to be racing in the last six races anyway for Ducati alongside Casey Stoner.
That was until a planned move by Marco Melandri to replace Anthony West from Misano onwards collapsed. Melandri has subsequently signed a two-year deal with Kawasaki’s factory team.