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."

Whilst under no illusions, Melandri has come to the conclusion that his goal of a competitive MotoGP seat in 2010 is best served by racing the Hayate rather than sitting on the sidelines.

"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.

"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."

Kawasaki is the only MotoGP manufacturer not to win a race since the four- stroke era began in 2002 and took a best finish of fifth last season with John Hopkins and Anthony West.

Having missed February's Sepang test, Melandri will make his second Hayate appearance during the final pre-season MotoGP test, at Jerez, from March 28-29.



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