Marco Melandri not shocked by Kawasaki withdrawal

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Italian Marco Melandri says he wasn’t shocked by today’s official announcement that Kawasaki is to quit the MotoGP world championship with immediate effect.

Despite rumours of a last-minute reprieve for the Japanese factory team, Melandri said he expected Kawasaki’s withdrawal from the moment he was notified of the quit plan on December 29.

Melandri’s manager Alberto Vergani told MCN: “Today’s announcement wasn’t a shock for us at all. It wasn’t unexpected and we always thought Kawasaki would go ahead with its plan not to race. Marco is disappointed but he is trying to remain positive.”

Vergani said Melandri’s future was more up in the air than ever before, with Jorge Martinez and Kawasaki team boss Michael Bartholemy both linked with rescue packages for the doomed project.

The 2009 ZX-RR has already been built in Japan ready for testing in Sepang at the beginning of February, but there is no clear indication on who might step in to run the bikes.

“We have no idea what is going to happen now. This is like a movie and the end hasn’t come yet. I think this is only the first part.

There are many rumours about Aspar and Bartholemy but we have zero indication of what might happen, “added Vergani.

Melandri signed for Kawasaki at the end of 2008 in a bid to rebuild his career after a nightmare season with Ducati’s factory team.

He had already tested the ZX-RR twice and signed a two-year deal. The decision to quit also leaves American John Hopkins out in the cold. He has reportedly dismissed a possible American superbike ride with Kawasaki.

The 25-year-old has yet to make any comment on today’s announcement.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt