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Kawasaki and Suzuki pack up early at Phillip Island

Kawasaki and Suzuki pack up early at Phillip Island

Kawasaki and Suzuki pack up early at Phillip Island

After three days of intense testing at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, the Kawasaki and Suzuki MotoGP teams packed up early and declared an end to the session 24 hours ahead of their original plan. With the Bridgestone tyre test programme complete and all four riders satisfied with the evolution of their machinery it proved to be a satisfactory test for both factories, who will now turn their attention to preparations for the official MotoGP test alongside all of their 2004 rivals at Catalunya on March 26th.

"This test has shown us the current limits of our bike, but I'm confident that our development plan will allow us to continue the process of improvement between now and the IRTA tests at the end of March, especially in the area of engine performance," commented Fuchs Kawasaki Team Manager Harald Eckl, who saw Shinya Nakano improve his best lap from the first day by two seconds. "I'm also quite happy that Shinya managed to put in a good lap time today, as conditions over the three days have been less than ideal for fast laps. The test has also allowed Bridgestone to collect a lot of data on the performance of their race tyres and I'm confident that this is also an area in which we'll see significant progress before the IRTA test at Catalunya."

Nakano had struggled for rear grip during the first two days of the test, admitting that he did not feel comfortable on his Ninja ZX-RR around the ultra-fast Phillip Island circuit. However, improvements in rear set up this morning combined with near perfect test conditions to give him a better feeling today. "I wasn't really confident with the feeling of the bike on the first two days of the test, but I'm happy with the fact that we've made some progress today," said Nakano, who set a best lap of 1'32.61 after 82 laps.

"The main problem has been a lack of rear grip, but we found a good setting on the rear this morning when the conditions on track were near perfect, and this allowed me to set my fastest time of the three days. This afternoon we concentrated on tyre testing, as it's important that we give the Bridgestone technicians as much feedback as possible for their development programme. Overall I'm happy with the progress we've made today, and the fact that we've continued to make improvements to the bike here gives us added confidence as we start preparations for the IRTA tests at Catalunya."

Nakano's team-mate, Alex Hofmann, has also suffered problems with rear traction and missed out on ideal test conditions this morning as he and his pit crew worked to solve the problem. A change of set-up led to an improvement in the afternoon but, while the German rookie managed to improve upon his previous best lap time, he was frustrated not to have been closer to the time of his team-mate.

"To be honest, today has been frustrating for me," commented Hofmann, who clocked 1'33.75 after 62 laps. "Conditions were perfect his morning, but I was still having problems finding rear traction, with the result that the bike was sideways everywhere. We were in and out of the pits all morning, which meant I wasn't able to get into a good rhythm.

"This afternoon we managed to make a small step forward, but it was difficult to assess how much of an improvement we'd made because I was out on tyres that already had 17 laps on them. Ideally I'd have liked to have tested the set up with a fresh set of tyres, but we simply ran out of time. But, however small it might have been, it was a step forward and that will stand us in good stead when we get to Catalunya."

MotoGP, 2003, Kawasaki Racing Team

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