Aspar: "I Can't Sell Nakano To My Sponsors"
The good news for MotoGP and Dorna at Phillip Island was that Kawasaki confirmed that they would provide a third ZXRR to compete in the 2009 MotoGP season. The announcement meant that MotoGP's rather thin grid would be filled out a little for 2009, taking the total up to 19 bikes, with a possible fifth Ducati raising that to 20.
The bad news was the conditions that Kawasaki was imposing on the deal. KHI in Japan is very keen for Shinya Nakano to return to the fold at Kawasaki, the Japanese rider having ridden for the team from 2004 to 2006. But Jorge Aspar Martinez, the man who is to run the team, doesn't want Nakano as a rider, as a Japanese rider would cause him problems with his sponsors.
"With all due respect to Nakano, he is not a rider I can sell to my sponsors," Aspar told Spanish magazine Solomoto. "I want to choose the rider, and I want a Spaniard."
The problem Aspar has is the amount of money Kawasaki wants from the team. Martinez is believed to have a Spanish telecom company lined up to sponsor the team, but because the effort would be promoting a product on the Spanish domestic market, he needs a Spanish rider to help the sponsors sell their product at home.
Aspar's preferred option is Spanish veteran Alex Debon, who is currently campaigning the Lotus Aprilia in the 250 class. Debon would be on development duty, helping to get the bike competitive enough for 2010, when Aspar hopes to bring Alvaro Bautista into MotoGP.
Martinez has not ruled out the option of Nakano completely, though. It's a small matter of finance: If Kawasaki is prepared to reduce their asking price, then Aspar may yet run the Japanese veteran.