Kawasaki returns to MotoGP

Melandri to ride for new Hayate Racing Team

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Mar. 02, 2009
Kawasaki will have a presence in the 2009 MotoGP Championship with a one-rider team featuring Marco Melandri.

The Japanese manufacturer announced its withdrawal from MotoGP racing on Jan. 9 due to the global financial crisis. Series promoter Dorna Sports was seeking to keep the team and the Kawasaki ZX-RR in the MotoGP paddock.

Kawasaki was under contract to enter its prototype motorcycle in the series until 2011 and Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta at one point asked the manufacturer to race 2009 or face legal action.

After lengthy discussions between Kawasaki, Dorna and other third parties, Kawasaki agreed to supply a motorcycle for Melandri for the new Hayate Racing Team. Melandri was quick to return to action as the first rider on the track March 1 for the official MotoGP night test for the opening round race at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar.

Marco Melandri will ride a Kawasaki ZX-RR in the 2009 MotoGP Championship for the Hayate Racing Team.. Melandri led all riders in the tests with 35 laps in a rain-shortened session and recorded the second-fastest time.

“I need so much more time. I did only a few laps and the times were pretty slow because of the dirty track,” Melandri told MotoGP.com following the test. “The bike is also completely different to the ’08 that I used in November; I need a few more hours to understand it but the first impression was quite good.”

Named for the Japanese word for ‘hurricane’, the Hayate Racing Team will be managed by Andrea Dosoli, a former electronic fuel injection technician for the Kawasaki Racing Team. Jasja Bos has been named team coordinator.

Kawasaki’s announcement made no mention of rider John Hopkins who, like Melandri, was under contract with the factory team. Former Kawasaki Racing Team chief Michael Bartholemy also does not appear to be involved with the new team.

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