Melandri hopes Kawasaki will join test
|By Michele Lostia and Matt Beer||Monday, February 16th 2009, 12:53 GMT|
Marco Melandri says he remains committed to the Kawasaki Racing team's efforts to run the ex-factory bikes in MotoGP this season, and is optimistic that they can join the next official test in Qatar.
MotoGP organiser Dorna is working to ensure that Kawasaki retain a presence in the sport despite the manufacturer pulling the plug on its works programme. The 2009 bike has already tested in Australia with Olivier Jacque, and Melandri remains optimistic that the team can stay together as privateers.
"Testing-wise, we are on equal footing with the others: Jacque tested in Australia, while the others did in Malaysia," Melandri told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"At the moment I'm working with Dorna and Michael Bartholemy, the former team manager, to realise the project of a private entry.
"We are late in re-organising the team: the technicians had already been left to go. On top of that, we need an agreement with Kawasaki for servicing the engines, a minimum of development, and the building of spare parts: at the moment there are only the 2009 bikes from the test in Australia.
"The idea is to be on track here (Losail) on March 1st with the others. We're going for that. I count on being able to be ready for the tests."
Melandri said he had no qualms about racing for a non-factory team, and just wanted to restore his reputation after a miserable 2008 alongside Casey Stoner at Ducati.
"I've accepted to race with a team that from being a works Kawasaki outfit becomes a satellite entry because I see a good atmosphere," he said.
"Bartholemy wants to do things right and the team will have highly-motivated technicians.
"I'll start the season with the will to make up for a very bad one. I know I won't be fighting to win the title or the Grands Prix, however I crave having fun on the bike. It will be difficult, not impossible.
"I didn't mind the character of Kawasaki's 2008 bike, while I don't know the 2009 one. But even if it's not competitive, if the team has faith in me that I'm ready to give my best."
He expects to be the private Kawasaki team's only rider, as he claimed that potential teammate John Hopkins had chosen not to be involved.
"Hopkins has given up: in his opinion money is more important, while now we have to race for nothing," said Melandri. "I'm ready to invest in myself. I'll be alone."
Melandri made a sensational switch to car racing in the Speedcar Series at Losail last weekend, coming close to a victory in race two before suffering a late mechanical failure. He said he was interested in staying in Speedcar, but would not prioritise it over his MotoGP chances.
"I hope I can be a full time MotoGP rider," said the Italian. "However I'd like to do some more Speedcar races to see whether I can improve."