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News that Kawasaki will confirm its withdrawal from MotoGP sooner rather than later leaves riders John Hopkins and Marco Melandri with potentially not a lot to do in 2009 - but a few team managers might well be having meetings with their solicitors about now.

The pairing will be wanted by teams for 2009 - Melandri by virtue of his obvious talent and Hopkins because of the Monster Energy sponsorship money he brings with him. There aren't any obvious seats for either but someone may be busted down to test rider in order to accommodate.

Hopkins is most likely to pick up a ride simply because of the cash he can take to a team. Although Monster were Kawasaki's title sponsors, their contribution would not have been enough to fund a two-bike team but it may well be enough to fund a single-bike effort. Step forward Ducati?


Because Ducati is run by marketeers and not engineers, the firm might well consider a sixth bike if it doesn't cost them anything to run. And having six Desmosedicis on the telly every other weekend is better than five from a brand point of view, whether they're at the front or not. Plus it gives the Italians a better shot at the manufacturers' championship title.

Melandri, on the other hand, is the one that could struggle. Despite his championship-winning pedigree, you are only as good as your last game, Brian, and the Italian's form on the GP8 this season was woeful at best.

He hung his 2009 hat on the switch to Kawasaki's full-factory support instead of going back to Gresini Honda, who have kept hold of rookie Alex De Angelis. However, team boss Fausto Gresini would most probably welcome Melandri back with open arms and De Angelis, who is nothing like as popular in his home country, would fall by the wayside.

World Superbike boss Paolo Flammini may also be rubbing his hands because building and running a WSB-spec bike costs a fraction of the amount it takes to square up a MotoGP machine. Persuading either rider to join WSB has two stumbling blocks, however: it's a step down in class (certainly for Melandri) and the wage bill.

This hasn't stopped former MotoGP riders like Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada entering the WSB circus previously though. And the more premier class riders that sit on the WSB grid, the more credibility the series receives...

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