Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta may have been a little premature in revealing that Kawasaki were testing their MotoGP machine at Eastern Creek on Wednesday, but the surprise two-day test did get underway at the Australian circuit on Friday.
Kawasaki officially announced its withdraw from MotoGP earlier this month, but Ezpeleta isn't prepared to let the factory simply walk away from the remaining three seasons of its contract to race in MotoGP.
Instead, Ezpeleta is proposing that Kawasaki allows its ZX-RRs to race on in 2009, probably in the hands of a privateer team made up of former factory team personnel, and in return is willing to release Kawasaki from the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Exactly what technical support and funding Kawasaki would be expected to provide is unknown - and the factory states it only has enough engines built for 25% of this season - but Ezpeleta has warned that he will "take them to court" if Kawasaki don't race in one form or another in 2009.
The appearance of the 2009 ZX-RR at Eastern Creek seems a clear indication that Kawasaki could well race on - it makes no sense to test if the machines definitely won't be on the 2009 grid - although there have been suggestions that the test was scheduled (and shipping of equipment had begun) before the pull-out was announced.
Either way, Kawasaki development rider and former 250cc world champion Olivier Jacque - riding alongside fellow test rider Tamaki Serizawa - claimed to be impressed.
"Overall it seems lighter and more agile, so the work done over the winter definitely seems positive," the Frenchman told the official MotoGP website. "Now we have to rack up some miles to have a better idea of the bike's potential."
Kawasaki's withdraw has left the racing futures of its contracted riders John Hopkins and Marco Melandri up in the air, with all 17 remaining 2009 MotoGP rides already taken.