The final round of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship season at Valencia also marked the end of Shinya Nakano's association with the Kawasaki Racing Team.
While Kawasaki were keen to retain the services of the 29-year-old Japanese rider to develop and race their all-new 800cc Grand Prix machine during the 2007 season, Nakano informed senior Kawasaki staff of his decision to leave the Kawasaki Racing Team during a meeting held immediately after the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Motegi meeting was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Kawasaki and Nakano's management company but, despite compromises on both sides, Kawasaki were finally unable to secure Nakano's signature on a new contract.
Nakano has enjoyed a successful three year stint with the Kawasaki Racing Team, taking his Ninja ZX-RR to two podium finishes - including a career best second place at this year's Dutch TT at Assen - and finishing top ten in the championship on two occasions.
"Shinya Nakano has been an integral part of Kawasaki's success in recent years, and we are obviously disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to retain his services for the future," commented Kawasaki Team Principal, Harald Eckl.
"But, it became increasingly obvious during negotiations that Shinya was looking for a different challenge next year, and that, maybe, the responsibility for developing Kawasaki's new 800cc MotoGP machine was one that he was not prepared to shoulder. We would like to thank Shinya for all his hard work and dedication over the past three seasons, and we wish him the best of luck with his plans for the future."
"Shinya's name has become synonymous with Kawasaki over the past three years, and we were obviously keen to continue the relationship, but, in the end, it just wasn't possible," declared Kawasaki's Racing Director, Kenichi Furuhashi.
"Of course, we wish Shinya the best of luck with his plans for next year, but now we must look to our own future. We have a new 800cc machine to develop for the 2007 season, and this will obviously influence our decision as to which rider we will sign to replace Shinya in the Kawasaki Racing Team."
Shinya Nakano is expected to announce his plans for the 2007 season in the near future.
"I have enjoyed thoroughly my three years with the Kawasaki Racing Team, and I will take with me some happy memories of my time in green," said Shinya Nakano. "The decision to leave was a difficult one for me to make, as both the team and the factory have made me feel very much part of the Kawasaki family during my time riding the Ninja ZX-RR. The same is also true of Kawasaki's loyal fans, who turned out in huge numbers to show their support at every race. But, MotoGP is getting ever more competitive and, sometimes, it takes a new challenge to maintain the motivation required to compete at the very highest level. Fortunately for me, I have been lucky enough to have been offered such a challenge for next year."
"For this, I must say a big thank you to everyone with whom I've worked at Kawasaki, as the successes of the past three years were a direct result of their dedication and professionalism. It goes without saying that I wish Kawasaki every success for the future, although I might change my mind if I find a green machine in front of me too often next season!" concluded Nakano.