Kawasaki is back in the MotoGP World Championship, though it will be with just a one-rider team. And that rider is Marco Melandri and not John Hopkins.According to a release issued today by the team, Kawasaki will field one bike in the MotoGP World Championship, bringing the total entries for the season opener on March 14 to 18 motorcycles - the minimum amount that the contract between Dorna and the FIM calls for.In January, Kawasaki announced that it was pulling out of MotoGP due to the current economic crisis, but they have since been in negotiations with series rights holders Dorna, who was reportedly threatening to sue Kawasaki over a contract that is binding until 2011."That Kawasaki has come to this new team approach is the result of, on the one hand, the need for a strong reduction of MotoGP racing investments and, on the other hand, the necessity to come to constructive solutions for all related parties," the release states.No word yet on what this does to Hopkins' future, though word from his management group says that the Californian's situation should be resolved in the next few days. Hopkins is in the second year of a two-year contract with Kawasaki. Rumors from Europe of Hopkins joining the Stiggy Honda team in World Superbike seemed far-fetched, especially with that team expected to start the season in a few days with Robby Rolfo as its rider.Melandri is expected to be at the upcoming test in Qatar where he will have his first outing on the 2009 ZX-RR. The team will be run by former technical director Ichiro Yoda with competition manager Michael Bartholemy's contract having been terminated.The bikes are expected to be unbranded with a team name scheduled to be announced shortly. Sources report that the bikes will not be in Kawasaki's traditional green and that crew members were told to bring black pants and black shirts to the test in Qatar.

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Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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