The Dutch site Racesport.nl is reporting a remarkable rumor: Racesport is saying that Kawasaki is set to replace Ant West with Marco Melandri after the Grand Prix of China at Shanghai. Both Marco Melandri and Ant West have been deeply disappointing with their respective factory teams, with Melandri describing himself as a "luxury spectator", at an absolute loss when trying to master the Ducati Desmosedici, and only managing a best finish of 11th at Qatar. West, meanwhile, has only managed to score a meager 3 points from a 13 spot at Qatar, failing utterly to live up to the early promise he displayed on the Kawasaki last year. So for Kawasaki to ditch the failing West, offering an escape route to a suffering Melandri makes a great deal of sense. And with the Kawasaki Racing team being located near Venlo in The Netherlands, Racesport.nl, as a Dutch news site, has strong links inside the team, although Racesport reports that official sources inside the team have refused to comment. Elsewhere, however, other rumors have Makoto Tamada swapping places with Ant West, Tamada returning to MotoGP, while West would switch to ride the Kawasaki ZX-10R in World Superbike.
If Melandri were to leave the factory Ducati squad, the question remains who would take his place. His most likely replacement, at least in the first instance, would be Ducati's official test rider, Niccolo Canepa. But other candidates to replace Melandri would be Alex Barros or Max Biaggi. Barros is perhaps the most likely replacement, as the Brazilian veteran is currently without a ride, and he also has experience of Ducati's 800cc bike, having ridden the GP7 with the d'Antin team last year.
So far, however, these are all just rumors. Once the Shanghai MotoGP round is over, we should hear more.