After making his debut on the 2009 Kawasaki ZX-RR at the Qatar night test, it has been confirmed that Marco Melandri has agreed to race for 'Hayate' during the 2009 MotoGP World Championship.
The Hayate Racing Team is a scaled down, unofficial version, of the former Kawasaki Racing Team, which withdrew from MotoGP in January due to the global economic crisis.
Kawasaki had wanted a total withdraw, but has been 'persuaded' to back a privateer entry after consultations with Dorna. Kawasaki will supply the machinery and necessary technical support to Hayate, but no development is expected.
Melandri signed a multi-year contract to race for Kawasaki late last season and, although subsequently named as the rider for the new Hayate project, claimed he was waiting to see how the latest ZX-RR performed at Qatar before making a final decision.
The Italian, looking to rebound from a disastrous season at Ducati, had been second fastest during a damp and dusty opening night at Losail, before slipping back to 14th on day two and 16th and last on day three.
Whilst Melandri was a worrying 3.207sec off former team-mate Casey Stoner, Melandri was within two seconds of third placed Valentino Rossi - a reasonable deficit given the troubled background of the Hayate project - and only 0.065sec from Tech 3 Yamaha's James Toseland.
Signing a completely new contract, one that means he won't be tied down to Hayate for the two years he originally agreed with Kawasaki, Melandri revealed he wants to show the manufacturer that they have made a mistake in pulling out of MotoGP.
“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,” said the 2005 MotoGP World Championship runner-up.
“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.”