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Kawasaki close to Nakano and Bridgestone deals

Kawasaki close to Nakano and Bridgestone deals

Kawasaki close to Nakano and Bridgestone deals

Kawasaki Racing Team Manager Harald Eckl has revealed that he is close to signing agreements which will see Shinya Nakano riding the Ninja ZX-RR on Bridgestone tyres in MotoGP next season. Although no contracts have yet been signed, Eckl said there was a ‘big chance' that Nakano would put pen to paper shortly, with the rubber manufacturer set to follow suit. With Alex Hofmann already confirmed as the other half of the two-rider line-up, Andrew Pitt now looks set to step down to a testing role.

"We are in negotiations with Shinya and, although nothing is signed yet, there is a big chance he will agree," said Eckl. "We are also discussing with Bridgestone and are close to finalising a deal. As far as Andrew is concerned, we are currently discussing with him the possibility of working as a test rider for us – maybe with the opportunity for some wildcard and replacement rides."

Eckl added his admiration for Nakano, who finished runner-up in the 250cc World Championship in 2000 before being named MotoGP Rookie of the Year in 2001. "For me, Nakano is one of the top, top riders – I think he has proved that not only in the 250 class but also in MotoGP. To be honest, compared to the other riders I am surprised he has become available. He has a very nice personality and the spirit of a true racer. I would be very happy if he signs with us."

On the Bridgestone deal, which would mark the end of the team's relationship with Dunlop, Eckl commented: "This year was a trial year for us and Dunlop and we made a lot of progress. However, there was something I wasn't sure about because we were the only Dunlop team. After seeing Bridgestone's good results with Tamada on the Honda, I thought it could be a good alternative. Also, Kawasaki and Bridgestone have a close relationship in terms of factory production, so this would be another good way for them to push together."

MotoGP, 2003, Shinya Nakano, Kawasaki Racing Team

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