Jorge “Aspar” Martinez hopes of entering MotoGP with Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista in-tow seem to have disappeared today. After calling an emergency meeting with the young Spanish rider today, Aspar had hope to be able to persuade Bautista to not sign with the Rizla Suzuki factory team, which has an exception to the rookie rule. Those hopes, however, no seem to be in vain as early indications point to Bautista instead opting to ride for the Rizla Suzuki team.
Jorge “Aspar” Martinez is closing in on finally becoming a player in MotoGP. Aspar has had his eye on MotoGP for some time now, hoping to move out of the ranks of 250GP, where he has been making quite the showing with Alvaro Bautista at the helm. Despite his ambition, the right deal has never been able to materialize for Martine. But that now seems to be changing as Aspar could announce before Donington, his plans to enter MotoGP as Ducati Satellite team. Bautista, however, is still a question mark.
On Wednesday, Motorcycle News reported that Ezpeleta did not believe that Aspar would take on the responsibility of directing a private Kawasaki team, the speculation on that statement is now over as Aspar today confirmed that he would not be heading such a team, as the basic needs of his organization could not be made. As we reported earlier, the deal-breaker for Aspar was the requirement to have a Spanish rider on one of the bikes. This is because the Barcelona based team, has Spanish sponsors that need to be able to justify their advertising dollars. Another deal-breaker that came out of the talks was the fact Kawasaki’s involvement at this point in time is still short-term.
Kawasaki has committed themselves to racing in MotoGP through 2011 in a contract with Dorna. Dorna had offered Team Green a way out of that contract if the were willing to provide bikes for the 2009 season, thus keeping MotoGP’s status as a championship series in the eyes of the FIM. But Aspar et al are looking for a long-term involvement in MotoGP, thus a one-year deal would more likely hinder their long-term plans than help them. Faced with these problems, the deal fell apart, and here we are.
This leaves Michael Bartholemy, manager of the Factory Kawasaki team, as the last great hope to keeping the green bikes on the grid. From our post last night,there is the possibility of a French company providing technical assistance in bike maintenance and development. However, now it seems more like that former MotoGP contender, British firm Ilmor, will take up this role.
The 2008 ZX-RR Ninja has a unique problem, it makes plenty of power, but has an extremely hard time getting that power down to the wheels in a way that is usable for the rider. Both John Hopkins and Anthony West complained of a lack of rear wheel traction, as well as a lack of front-end feel, making it impossible to take advantage of the Kawasaki’s potent engine. Unless Bartholemy can find someone to help him work on the chassis, then any attempt at reviving the project may be doomed before it even gets off the ground.
Today is a day of waiting if your a MotoGP fan, particularly a Kawasaki MotoGP fan. With all the drama that has been surrounding the Team in Green, a meeting in Japan may define how the rest of the season shapes up. Michael Bartholemy is in Japan today for talks with Kawasaki about the level of support they can/will provide to a potential privateer team.
Support has become a major issue since Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed that Kawasaki only had enough parts to see out 25% of the 2009 season, and would not be able to handle engine development or maintenance.
This issue was alleviated partially by Bartholemy announcing that he has found a French company, which could handle at least some of that support work for the racing spares. It is speculated that if he can persuade Kawasaki to hand over the entire MotoGP operation to this French company, then there is a possibility that the team could be saved.
Lastly, there is still the issue of Jorge “Aspar” Martinez, and whether he would direct and fund the operation. A few sources have wheeled out the jump to conclusions mat on this topic, saying that he will not be involved in a Kawasaki privateer team, but the only basis for this assertion seems to be Aspar’s statement that he’d want at least one Spanish rider. To us, this issue has not come out as a deal breaker.
UPDATE: It looks like Alex Debon could be the Spanish rider that Jorge Martinez could tap to be one of his MotoGP riders.
You would think that Kawasaki’s announcement to leave MotoGP put’s to rest whether or not they will be racing next year in MotoGP, but you’d be wrong….at least sort of wrong. There has been a tremendous amount of speculation if someone else would come along and direct/finance a Kawi MotoGP effort, and many people have pointed that finger at Jorge “Aspar” Martinez. That rumor would appear to have gained new credence today with the latest comment from Dorna’s CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, continuing reading for more.