Dornasaki Is Go! Melandri To Compete In 2009

 As reported yesterday, Marco Melandri will be on the grid at Qatar for the start of the 2009 season. Melandri will be riding a Kawasaki, with support provided by the Akashi factory. The company issued a statement earlier today, stating that the agreement to provide support for the team had come because of "the necessity to come to constructive solutions for all related parties."

Given the amount of public pressure Dorna had placed on Kawasaki, it seems reasonable to interpret this to mean that Dorna had placed severe pressure on Kawasaki to honor the contract which the Akashi factory had with MotoGP's organizers, after Carmelo Ezpeleta had made veiled - and not-so-veiled - threats to take Kawasaki to court for breach of contract. Although this seems to have solved Dorna's problem in the short term, Kawasaki are likely to be very wary of ever returning to the series once the economy recovers, afraid of finding themselves once more stuck in a series they cannot get out of without spending a lot of money. 

Meanwhile, Dorna's own legal difficulties with the FIM look to have been solved, as the minimum quota of 18 riders has been met, which it is believed is stipulated by the private contracts between the FIM and Dorna. MotoGP remains a world championship. Just. 

Here's the official statement from Kawasaki:

Kawasaki announces that after constructive talks between Kawasaki, Dorna and other involved parties, a new one-rider Team will participate in the 2009 MotoGP Championship season.This decision was made after negotiations that followed Kawasaki’s January 2009 announcement to suspend its factory supported MotoGP activities due to the economic crisis. Rider for the new MotoGP team will be the Italian Marco Melandri.

The team will be equipped with Kawasaki motorcycles and supporting materials.

That Kawasaki has come to this new team approach is the result of on the one hand the need for a strong reduction of MotoGP racing investments and on the other hand the necessity to come to constructive solutions for all related parties.

The new team will disclose more details about its 2009 season’s plans on a short notice.

Tip of the hat to our friends at Bikesport News for being quickest off the mark.

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Carmelo Ezpeleta - please let this be the end of the Dorna-Kawasaki soap opera that has been extensively chronicled here and on other websites. Many of us may disagree with the outcome, but please let this be the FINAL outcome. We fans just want to see some good racing.

Personally, I am looking forward to this weekend (WSBK Round 1 in Phillip Island, Australia) a lot more than the second week in April (MotoGP Round 1 in Qatar, Losail).

One more unrelated item that I think most here will agree with: I am looking forward to turning the page of my calendar to see another beautiful Scott Jones photograph.

This is a temporary solution to the "18 bike" problem, which is fine.  However, what about next year?

With just about every kind of testing and preparation banned, and the escalating costs of developing machinery to keep up with the new rules, what potential new constructor would sign up for this kind of torture...  even in good financial times?

So, what then, a funded-by-Dorna 5th Yamaha?  3rd Suzuki? (that's IF they have a good enough year to attract a sponsor that will pay to keep them in at all)  It looks to me like, however many bikes will have to be Dorna-subsidized, Mr. Ezpeleta needs to make friends with someone at Cadbury, because they're all going to be called "Caramello bikes" anyway.


I seems that Kawasaki did not even try to get new sponsors before claiming poverty and pulling out. Pepper the Bike with many smaller sponsors and finance the developement. The new bike was not the slowest bike in initial test. Even if it is, Melandri will ride the wheels off of it, if only to show the world that he still has what it takes to be a top 5 finisher even on a slower bike.