Ezpeleta expects Kawasaki bikes to race

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta says he expects a Kawasaki team to race in 2009, having confirmed that he has agreed to let the company withdraw from its commitment to stay in MotoGP until 2011 provided it participates this season

Ezpeleta expects Kawasaki bikes to race

Kawasaki has ended its factory involvement in MotoGP due to the global economic downturn, but Ezpeleta is working on a deal for the firm's racing team to continue running for a further year in a semi-private capacity, with existing team manager Michael Bartholemy set to remain at the helm.

In exchange for proceeding with the 2009 programme, Kawasaki would not have to honour the MotoGP manufacturers' previous agreement to all support the championship through 2011.

"It's an agreement until 2011 that Dorna has with the manufacturers' association: in September each of them told us how many bikes they would race with. Kawasaki included," Ezpeleta explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There's no penalty, but an agreement can't be broken.

"I reaffirmed that I wouldn't accept the contract being broken. And, since they told us all expenses were covered, I proposed to them to race in 2009. In exchange, I would let them off for 2010 and 2011.

"The problem, they said, is that they have engines only for 25 per cent of the season, and that they didn't want to develop the rest. So I've looked for a structure, in France, able to do this job. The final obstacle is for the Japanese to meet these people and accept their work programme.

"I think everything can be solved. Besides, (test rider) Olivier Jacque is testing in Eastern Creek today. The team will be managed once again by Michael Bartholemy and it's important to safeguard (Kawasaki's contracted 2009 riders) John Hopkins and Marco Melandri.

"In any case it's Kawasaki's problem: if they don't race, I'll take them to court."

Although this deal simply postpones Kawasaki's exit, Ezpeleta is confident that the cost-cutting discussions currently being held will ensure a full grid in 2010 even without Kawasaki.

He believes that if the manufacturers cut back to one spare bike per team rather than the present one spare per rider arrangement, they will be able to expand their line-ups.

"Before the start of the season I want the 2010 rules, which I think will increase the field to 20 bikes," said Ezpeleta.

"I'll be back in Japan to meet the Honda and Yamaha bosses and ask a bigger effort of them. By abolishing the spare bike, we'll just need each manufacturer to make one bike more than today to have a full grid."

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