Nicky Hayden was taken out at the first corner in three races and Marco Melandri and John Hopkins thought they had rock solid deals with Kawasaki until the Japanese factory quit in early January.
Melandri and Hopkins though at least had limited time to plot an alternative career path. Sete Gibernau was pushed into retirement for the second time and this time there was no salvation. The veteran Spaniard had been a shock entry on the ’09 grid.
His appetite had been whetted in mid-2008 when he tested for Ducati and by the end of the year he’d secured a full-time return with the new Grupo Francisco Hernando Ducati squad. Spanish property tycoon Francisco Hernando though had been hit hard by the impact of the financial crisis on the construction industry.
And just as Kawasaki had crumbled under the financial burden of racing in the middle of a worldwide recession, Gibernau’s squad departed after the Laguna Seca race.