Marco Melandri will contest the 2009 season as a Hayate Racing rider in a single-rider, single-year deal, the Italian has confirmed to motogp.com. His previous two-year contract with Kawasaki has been torn up and a new agreement hastily arranged in time for the start of the coming season, one in which he will ride a Ninja ZX-RR with no further factory development.
“The contract with Kawasaki has been cancelled. I had to make a big financial sacrifice, but the most important thing that I wanted was to find trust,” he said on Thursday morning, just over a week on from his first testing appearance of 2009 in Qatar.
“I have nothing to lose. One month ago I had one foot outside the World Championship, and now I have a team that is working solely for me. My motivation is this, and to show Kawasaki that they made a mistake in choosing to pull out their factory support.”
His future confirmed, next on Melandri’s agenda is finding solutions to some of the problems experienced in Qatar. Although he was some way off the fastest riders at the test, the Hayate Racing man has pinpointed what he thinks are the big factors slowing him down. He put 80% of the time differential down to a rear grip issue that has been a persistent thorn in the side of those riding the Ninja ZX-RR, a difficulty that he admits may not be resolved within the month.
“We weren’t fast in Qatar; that’s a fact. The bike did make a good impression on me though. I don’t know how much it will be possible to improve it before the start of the season, but the team have assured me that they will be making a big effort until the end of March,” the former World Championship runner-up continued.
Melandri has experienced two difficult seasons with Honda and Ducati, respectively, in 2007-2008. Vocal about any disappointments and brutally honest, much interest will focus on how he reacts to a bike with which he does not expect to be pushing for the podium, but for the moment he is not looking too far ahead.
“I’ve heard about not getting any factory support, but I believe in the work that has been done up to now. If the bike improves then I think that I can keep up. Obviously if I’m coming in last every Sunday then it will be hard to deal with, but I don’t want to think so far into the future.”