Qatar test to decide Kawasaki/|Marco Melandri fate

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Marco Melandri is expected to test a Kawasaki ZX-RR in Qatar next week, but the Italian is not yet convinced he will start the 2009 season.

In a further confusing twist to the on-going Kawasaki saga, MCN understands Melandri will decide whether he will be part of a one-rider Kawasaki team based on the competitiveness of the bike at next week’s three night test session under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit.

Melandri has spoken of his intention to be part of the new squad, but even he is now sceptical whether a project thrown together at the last minute has any chance of success.

With reports from two Australia tests conducted by Olivier Jacque suggesting the 2009 prototype ZX-RR is no better than last year’s disastrous model, Melandri wants to form his own judgement in Qatar before he commits to a deal for the season.

A source close to the Italian told MCN: “ The mission is to test in Qatar and then decide if it is worth carrying on. This is logical, because if Marco is in Qatar and three seconds off the pace, then it is better to stop. We are not positive.

“Marco has accepted to race but only if everything is proper. If it is just to put a bike on the grid for the sake of it, it is a waste of time.”

As the farcical Kawasaki story drags on, further confusion emerged last week.

A new team, which will not use Kawasaki’s name, will be run by Technical Director Ichiro Yoda, who has managed to recruit some of the team’s former mechanics return, even though their contracts for 2009 were all paid up for 2009.

What is certain is that former team boss Michael Bartholemy is not part of any new plan to race in 2009, though he has still to make any public comment since Kawasaki announced it would quit MotoGP on January 9 because of the global economic crisis.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt