The dust has settled, and the boys in green are officially out of MotoGP. With Kawasaki withdrawing from MotoGP just a few months after the end of the 2008 season, there are few, if any, opportunities for Marco Melandri and John Hopkins in motorcycle racing. Typically by January all teams are well settled on their plans for the coming season, and the addition/replacement of a new rider is almost entirely out of the question. With MotoGP out of the realm of possibilities, what options are there for these two rider? Continue reading after the jump to find out.
The most obvious solution, at least for Hopper, is a move back to AMA Superbike racing. There is talk of a “Hopper for Hacker” switch in the Monster Sponsored Kawasaki team in AMA Superbike. This would be a reversal of the 2008 Laguna Seca race, where Jamie Hacking replaced the injured John Hopkins on the grid for Kawasaki.
For Melandri there seems to be even fewer choices. His manager Alberto Vergani has all but ruled out a move to World Superbike, saying that all the good opportunities in that series have been taken. Melandri, who was only 26 when he joined the MotoGP series, still has a considerable career in front of him, and he and his manager are careful to avoid any moves that would affect the young Italian’s career.
With those comments in mind, we could very well see Marco Melandri sitting this season out, with John Hopkins giving Mat Mladin and the rest of the AMA regulars a run for their money. However, with Dorna still scrambling to fill in its not below contract levels grid, maybe a last minute white knight could take in the homeless Melandri and Hopper. There are still some cards left to be played, at least you can say there’s some excitement in the off-season.