Jorge Martinez 'Aspar' has confirmed that his hopes of securing a third Kawasaki ZX-RR for the 2009 MotoGP season are now over.

Negotiations between Aspar and Kawasaki have stalled on several previous occasions, but have now broken down altogether over the issue of rider choice and the implications this has for sponsorship.

As previously reported, Aspar wanted a Spanish rider to please the sponsors lined-up to fund the project, but Kawasaki has been insisting on handing the bike to its former factory rider Shinya Nakano.

Aspar had initially hoped to sign Toni Elias or Carlos Checa, but was recently learning towards Aprilia's 250GP race winner Alex Debon.

It was thought that a compromise might be found whereby Kawasaki would increase its financial input in return for Aspar running Nakano, but the two sides remained too far apart and the deal has been abandoned.

"We have broken negotiations and it has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I prefer that it is this way," Aspar told Spanish sportspaper AS.

"Although it hurts me a lot, because I have been working for three years to set in motion a serious project in MotoGP, I cannot begin it with Nakano as the rider," the former racer explained. "He seems excellent, but he does not fit in my project because he is not marketable with a view toward my sponsors, they are Spaniards and for them I want a Spanish rider at any cost.

"If it must be Nakano, then the budget could not be financed only by [my sponsors] but also by Kawasaki. Now I have to speak with my sponsors again at Valencia and, from there, we will do a new plan for the future."

Aspar had some sympathy for the difficulties of providing a third factory machine for manufacturers like Kawasaki and Suzuki, which currently field only a two-rider factory team.

"Suzuki and Kawasaki have two motorcycles and to manufacture a third one for them is a complicated problem," said Aspar. "If my project was like that of other satellite teams, like those of Gresini or Cecchinello, then it would have been simpler. What complicates things is that I want a project of three years and with the guarantee of the support of a factory that will offer me official motorcycles, like those of their factory team.

"The model of the Tech 3 team of [Herve] Poncharal is the one that I want to follow because its motorcycles are identical to those of Fiat Yamaha. I want my motorcycle and that of the factory team to be equal at the beginning of season, but I am conscious that a 'Valentino Rossi' is going to receive developments before our rider. I believe this is reasonable."

And it seems that Yamaha might be Aspar's best option for a 2010 MotoGP entry.

"The first option we studied was that of Suzuki, last year," confirmed Aspar. "Then we looked at Ducati and Kawasaki, although I also spoke several times with the people of Yamaha and this option could be the most reliable one for 2010, but not the only one."

John Hopkins and new signing Marco Melandri will thus remain the only Kawasaki MotoGP riders in 2009, although the premier-class field could still expand to 19 riders with the rumoured fifth Ducati project, run by the Nieto family for Sete Gibernau, tipped to be confirmed at Valencia.

Aspar will continue to run front-running Aprilia teams in both the 125 and 250cc World Championships next season, while Nakano's most likely role - having already lost his Gresini Honda race seat to Elias - is as a HRC test rider.

Nakano graduated to the 500cc class with Tech 3 Yamaha as the 250cc title runner-up in 2001, claiming a debut podium and premier-class best of fifth in the final world championship standings.

Shinya rode for Kawasaki from 2004 - 2006, claiming two podiums and a best of tenth in the championship before making what seemed like a more competitive move to JiR Honda for 2007.

A season year for all the satellite Honda riders saw Nakano languish down in 17th, but Honda gave the Japanese a second chance by switching him to the Gresini Honda outfit for 2008 - then handed him a factory-spec (valve-spring) RCV from round 13 at Brno onwards.

Nakano has taken a best finish of fourth so far this season and is currently ninth in the world championship.



Loading Comments...