Out of the Blue and into the Green -- Vermeulen Signs with Paul Bird Kawasaki? UPDATED

In a surprising, if not shocking move, speedweek.eu is reporting that Chris Vermeulen has made a two-year commitment to Paul Bird Kawasaki to ride the ZX-10 Superbike in the World Superbike series. Vermeulen, who will be replaced by Alvaro Bautista at Rizla Suzuki next year, was rumored to be on every team manager in WSBK's short list of desirable riders, but whispers of serious discussions with Kawasaki had just surfaced a few days ago.  The ZX-10 package has been a relatively uncompetitive one but wild-card rides by Jamie Hacking at Salt Lake City and by Sheridan Morais at Kyalami indicated that maybe the hardware wasn't the sole culprit.

With the demise of Kawasaki's MotoGP program it is expected that resources devoted to that effort will be reallocated toward the superbike program with the Vermeulen signing the first visable result.  Just who will be pairing with Vermeulen is currently unknown but Sterilgarda Ducati rider Shakey Byrne and soon to be former Sterigarda Yamaha rider Tom Sykes have also been thought to be in discussions with the British team. 


Further information has surfaced on the Speedtv site that clarifies the state of negotiations between Chris Vermeulen and Paul Bird Kawasaki.

According to Vermeulen, "The Kawasaki deal looks good, we've spoken about a lot details and how it would work and agreed on the money, and it is for two years," he added. "The main goal would be to win the championship in 2011 on the new bike but that is not to say we would not be trying to do it next year. Kawasaki have a really good plan.

"I am told Yoda is coming to Estoril for a meeting and that's when I expect to see the final paperwork. We have agreed on how a lot of things would work in the team but I actually haven't signed a contract yet."

While Vermeulen is being understandably reluctant to commit publicly that the deal is done, Kawasaki European Race Planning Manager Steve Guttridge is not being nearly as coy: “Everything is looking good and we expect to be able announce a confirmation this week. We’ve spent time with Chris’ manager and as far as we are all concerned Chris is 100% happy with the deal and he’s ready to sign. He’s spoken to Yoda-san and has been convinced about the strength of the package."

Although Vermeulen has also had discussions with Aprilia and Pramac Ducati, it is considered unlikely that he will sign with either team. Whatever happens, Vermeulen says that he hopes to be able to make an announcement this weekend.

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I'm glad he got a ride. I can't help wondering how he would have done on a more competitive bike in MotoGP - he certainly had moments of brilliance over the last couple of years albeit mostly when it was raining but he seems like a nice kid so I hope he does well.

The next generation ZX10-R is going to best one of the best liter on grid, and maybe ever made. I personally know, it's going to be epic...

You heard it here first.

The next generation ZX10-R is going to best one of the best liter bikes on grid, and maybe ever made. I personally know, it's going to be epic...

Vermulen is a smart kid. He knows that on this platform he might be able to solve some unfinished business, if you know what I mean....

This is a good thing. All CV has to do is:
1. Place the Kwak higher than this year - easy
2. ALWAYS finish better then his tea-mate (Shakey or whoever)

There is tons of up-side to this
Good Luck CV

(Leave it to Speed to not bother about getting the spelling of a guy's name right...)

Too bad Kawasaki didn't think of this last year when they already had a contract with Hopkins. 

I thought you just copied and pasted the quote.  If I'd known it was you, I would have been much more gentle... ;-)

sadly i can't help but think that this will be the beginning of the end of his career.

I agree with you. KAWASAKI just never seem to get their act together. I would like to see CV do better. Easy to say in hindsight, but, he may have jumped into MOTOGP one year too early.

SUZUKI and KAWASAKI will never do any good. Their track record alone speaks volumes.

I hope it's not true this time around! Would like to know on what basis the ZX-10 will be the best litre bike in the world...the R1 is fairly flying now not to mention what the Aprilia did with Simoncelli at the helm!

The crossplane R1 is doing well in most domestic championships this year, except Australia. However, in WSB spec I'm not so sure that it's as strong as appearances indicate - Sykes is a quick rider but he's made barely an impact this year. I have a suspicion that Spies is making it look a lot better than it is.

The RSV4 on the other hand is a revolution in Superbike terms and will take some beating in 2011.

In terms of roadbikes, the ZX-10R has been one of the maddest around since 2004, I really can't understand why they can't make a decent WSB bike out of it. I really hope they get it together for 2011, maybe the wonderful work that the Hayate team has done can cross over to the WSB effort.

I'm glad to see that Kawasaki are going to have one focus rather than performing miserably in GP and WSBK. They have had some success in the WSBK series, and I hope CV is able to deliver some results for them. Fluorescent green looks better on a superbike anyway.

The 2011 ZX10R will supposedly have such a radical firing order, that an electric motor will be required to assist the engine spinning at low RPMs...

I would not place a bet on this technology being a racetrack success straight out of the gate.