How could we be so naive as to think the on-again-off-again saga of Kawasaki's withdrawal from MotoGP had reached its final conclusion? The official announcement from The Team Formerly Known As Kawasaki (and now to be called Hayate, according to Motorcycle News) that they would be fielding a single bike in MotoGP next year, came as news to Marco Melandri, the man supposed to be riding it. Speaking to the Italian press, Melandri claimed that nobody had spoken to him about it. "It was a surprise to me too!" Melandri told Sportmediaset.it. "I wasn't expecting it, because until yesterday, I knew they were looking for a new name for the team, and that's all ... I need some time to examine the situation, and to get confirmation from Japan, because nobody has called me about this."
As far as Melandri is concerned, his original plan still stands. He will go to Qatar to test the bike, and make his decision about whether to race or not after that. "I don't feel like starting the season with a bike that is three seconds off the pace, and then doesn't have any development during the season," Melandri told Gazzetto dello Sport. Had the official statement changed anything, Sportmediaset asked? "I need to speak to the people in Japan. I'll go to Qatar to find out how the bike stands up against the competition, and then we'll have to discuss everything. Because we still don't know what we're going to do about the old contract, and what the new contract will look like. It's all new to me, right now, I'm only going there to test the bike. If Kawasaki have said I will be the only rider, they have given me a little more room for maneuver" Melandri replied.
Most telling of all were Melandri's comments when asked what he expected of the bike from the tests. "I don't expect anything, because every time I had expecations, I ended up with nothing. So I will go to Qatar to see how the new 2009 bike stands up against the 2009 bike. It will probably be a radical change, but I'm curious to find out for myself, instead of hearing about it from others," Melandri said.
We thought, with the official statement from Kawasaki, that this deal had been done, and we knew what was to happen. But no, like a fourth-rate horror movie, every time they nail down the lid, the monster keeps busting out of the coffin to claim yet one more victim. In all probability, we will only know how this one ends when the bikes roll up to the starting line for the first race at Qatar.