When Marco Melandri signed with Hayate, he knew that Kawasaki would only be doing limited development on the ZX-RR in 2009. According to MCN that limited development will be quite limited after all, with Kawasaki ceasing to update the ZX-RR at the end of March, shortly after the Jerez tests. From then on, the factory will provide a maintenance service only, with no more upgrades, leaving Hayate to update the bike if they wish.
This news will mean that after the Jerez test, Melandri will essentially be riding the same bike the rest of the season, while his competitors continue to get new updates and revisions to their rides This news doesn’t bode well for Marco considering that the 2009 ZX-RR was nearly 3 seconds off the pace at the Qatar test. So far, Melandri’s impressions of the improvements made to the engine have been positive, but his biggest complaint was a lack of rear grip. As this problem has plagued the Kawasaki for the past two seasons, especially in 2008, the chances of Kawasaki finding a solution before Jerez look slim.
Hayate team manager, Andrea Dosoli, told MCN:
“We have all the conditions to move forward for 2009. Kawasaki will supply the bike and the spare parts and take care of engine maintenance. We will have development until the end of March and then it will stop or be reduced quite a lot. For sure the wish of any engineer is to develop the bike during the year but we have some budget reduction and that is the main reason why they suspended their racing activity. But we have enough parts to run for the whole season. We just won’t have any updates once Kawasaki scales down its involvement at the end of the month.”
Melandri’s best hope is that Hayate can find a source of sponsorship, and use the funds to collaborate with a third-party company to further develop the ZX-RR. Former GP factory Ilmor have expressed their interest in helping with development, and a French engineering firm has also been linked with the effort. Hopefully these avenues will pane out, otherwise it’s going to be a long season for Marco Melandri.