Aspar in talks to run Kawasakis
|By Michele Lostia and Matt Beer||Friday, January 2nd 2009, 10:09 GMT|
Leading 125cc and 250cc team Aspar are working on a deal to run the ex-works Kawasakis in MotoGP this year following the Japanese manufacturer's decision to quit the series.
As reported by autosport.com earlier this week, Kawasaki is set to officially confirm its exit from MotoGP in the coming days, leaving just four factory teams on the grid.
Aspar came close to agreeing a satellite Kawasaki deal for 2009, only for the plan to fall through because Kawasaki's preferred rider Shinya Nakano was not favoured by Aspar's Spanish backers.
But now Aspar boss Jorge Martinez says talks have resumed as championship organiser Dorna works to keep a Kawasaki presence in MotoGP.
"At the moment I'm on vacation with my family," Martinez told Gazzetta dello Sport. "However, since it has been known that Kawasaki was not taking part next season, my vacations have practically finished.
"For the last two days I've been on the phone with Dorna. They called me first. We are in contact and talks to buy out the two Kawasakis have started.
"For sure I'm very interested in MotoGP. It's a project that was already in my plans. Now there is this opportunity which I don't yet know with certainty whether it will come to be and how. From my part there is the will to talk. We'll see."
Kawasaki already had John Hopkins and Marco Melandri under contract for 2009. The American's personal sponsorship from energy drink company Monster could prove valuable to any team taking on the Kawasakis, and although Martinez was unwilling to discuss rider plans, he hinted that he would also be happy to retain Melandri.
"The matter regarding riders isn't a priority at the moment," said Martinez.
"I certainly wouldn't have any problem with Melandri. In fact, he's a rider I've always liked very much."