At Laguna Seca, Hayate Team Manager Andrea Dosoli confirmed what we all already knew. Kawasaki is history, and won't be back in MotoGP in 2010. According to reports in the Italian press, Dosoli said that he didn't expect Kawasaki to return next season. "I don't think that Kawasaki will be here [in MotoGP] next year: The decision to pull out was taken at a very high level, and coming back into MotoGP would be an admission that they made the wrong decision," GPOne.com reports Dosoli as saying.
Dosoli was proud of what the Hayate team has achieved with limited means: "With a budget of 25% of what it was last year, I think we've done pretty well," he said. Members of the team are doubling up - Dosoli is both team manager and crew chief to Marco Melandri, for example - and the savings even go so far as not to produce and distribute press releases. Meanwhile, the team has a mass of equipment which is surplus to requirements and up for sale, including a hospitality unit, transporters and a host of other items.
With Hayate / Kawasaki definitely out of the series for 2010, the MotoGP grid will once again be reduced to under the magic 18 rider mark. Dorna have an almost indefinite contract with the FIM to organize the series, but it is believed that one of the stipulations in that contract is that Dorna will ensure there is a minimum grid of 18 riders. Kawasaki's withdrawal would reduce the grid to 17, and question marks remain over the future of Sete Gibernau's Grupo Francisco Hernando effort. Former championship runner-up Gibernau must find it hard to remain motivated to run around at the back of the field, while the construction company that is funding the team has taken some severe financial blows from the collapse of the Spanish housing and construction market.
The most frequently suggested new entrant to the grid would be Jorge Martinez' Aspar team, but Aspar still has the problem of finding machinery. The Spaniard has been turned down flat by both Suzuki and Yamaha, and perhaps his only option would be to pick up Gibernau's bike from the GFH team. But right now, finding a rider for the Ducati is tough, as both Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista have flatly refused to ride the Ducati GP9, which has picked up a reputation as a career killer. Martinez may find another rider for the bike - Hector Barbera has alluded in passing to the possibilities of rejoining Aspar in MotoGP - but without a top Spanish star, it will be hard to find funding for the project, even for a seasoned and highly successful operator like Jorge Martinez.