17 August 2005
Nakano commits to Kawasaki.
Crash.net understands that Shinya Nakano will definitely remain with Kawasaki for the 2006 MotoGP World Championship season, his third year with team green, despite substantial offers from two other manufacturers.
With ten of the seventeen 2005 races now gone, Kawasaki, to the surprise of some, is the top Bridgestone manufacturer in the world championship standings - holding an excellent third (behind only Yamaha and Honda) with a points haul 9 clear of Ducati and 33 in front of Suzuki.
Significantly, Kawasaki is already just 2-points away from matching their entire 2004 points total of 95, while Nakano is presently ninth in the riders' championship - one place higher than his end of 2004 ranking. Shinya has scored 65 of his team's 2005 points with a best finish of fifth.
All of which comes despite Bridgestone teams suffering a lack of dry weather grip compared with their main, Michelin shod, rivals. The upside for Kawasaki has been that, even when the lead RCVs and M1s have been out of reach due to such circumstances, they have still been able to attack - and often beat - Ducati and Suzuki.
At the same time, Kawasaki (like Suzuki) have exploited Bridgestone's strong wet weather performance to collect a headline grabbing second place finish. It was their best result since joining MotoGP in late 2002.
At the start of this season, few would have placed Kawasaki ahead of Ducati but, last time out in Germany, Nakano fuelled that suggestion further by finishing just 4.5secs from race winner Valentino Rossi... and a massive 18.9secs ahead of the top Desmosedici of Loris Capirossi.
It is believed that one of the rival offers made to Nakano for 2006 was from Ducati, and the above statistics probably help explain why Shinya would decline such an approach.
Meanwhile, the future of fellow ZX-RR riders Alex Hofmann and test/wild-card rider Olivier Jacque, who scored the team's superb second place at Shanghai, is less clear.
Crash.net believes that no definite decision has yet been made: Kawasaki could replace them both with either a more proven race winner or a young gun from the 250cc class. On the other hand, one of them could still stay.
The chances of seeing a satellite Kawasaki team in 2006, as has been rumoured in some quarters, is considered highly unlikely at present.
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