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Kawasaki step up MotoGP challenge with new Ninja

Kawasaki step up MotoGP challenge with new Ninja

Kawasaki step up MotoGP challenge with new Ninja

Kawasaki are looking forward to the 2004 MotoGP World Championship as the season that they really make their mark on motorcycling's elite racing class, after investing heavily in the team, riders and machine over the winter break. The distinctive green machines struggled at the back of the pack last season despite the best efforts of Grand Prix winner Garry McCoy and former World Supersport Champion Andrew Pitt, but factory chiefs insist they have made the necessary investment to make major progress over the coming nine months and beyond.

"Last year marked Kawasaki's first full season of competition in motorcycle racing's premier class - it was a year filled with challenges, but one in which much valuable and necessary experience was gained," explained Shinichi Morita, President of Consumer Products & Machinery for Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

"As we head into our second full season our outlook is positive. For 2004 we welcome two new riders (Alex Hofmann and Shinya Nakano), who bring their enthusiasm and experience to the project.

"Development and feedback over the past year has helped us build a new, more potent, Ninja ZX-RR. The team has adapted to the hectic pace of MotoGP and being familiar with the circuits will help each member to focus on the job at hand and work as an efficient part of a unified whole.

"With the recent developments amongst the major teams and riders, MotoGP in 2004 will be more exciting than ever and Kawasaki stands ready to face the challenge. Having completed our inaugural year, we are ready to up the pace and see our lime green machines running with the leaders of the pack."

The 2004 version of the Ninja ZX-RR currently features the same 990cc, inline four-cylinder unit as last year, but boasts a brand new chassis built in cooperation with Eskil Suter and Suter Racing Technology in Switzerland which has not only made a dramatic improvement in lap times but has also led to swifter development in other areas of the bike.

"The new chassis has been developed jointly by Kawasaki and SRT and is now built in Europe," explained Team Manager Harald Eckl. "One of the main advantages of this change is that we've shortened the line of communications considerably and this has allowed us to react much more rapidly to rider feedback with design changes and modifications.

"A key group of engineers from the chassis department in Japan have moved to Switzerland and this integration into the European system and racing philosophy is an interesting step forward for our MotoGP project. One of the main consequences of this change is that Kawasaki engineers in Japan are now able to concentrate on engine development, which is, of course, also critical to our success."

Kawasaki have also switched from Dunlop to Bridgestone tyres for 2004, a move which Eckl also believes could make a major difference to their immediate results and future development. "The right tyres are absolutely critical for success in MotoGP, mainly because of the performance and horsepower advances made with the prototype four-stroke machines in recent seasons," said the former Grand Prix racer.

"These machines require the highest possible level of grip from the tyres, combined with good durability, without which it would be difficult to be competitive. Bridgestone have proved what they can do in Formula 1 and, after only a brief period in MotoGP, they have already demonstrated the huge potential of their tyres.

"The performance of the Bridgestone tyres during preseason testing has been impressive, especially their consistency and durability, which I'm confident will give us an advantage towards the end of the race at some racetracks this season."

Fuchs Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR Technical Specification

Type: Four-stroke
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Induction System: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 990cc
Lubrication: Wet sump
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injection
Exhaust System: Four into two into one
Maximum Power: In excess of 220BHP @ 14,500 rpm
Maximum Speed: In excess of 320 km/h

Gearbox: Six speed, cassette type
Primary Drive: Gear
Clutch: Dry multi-plate slipper clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Lubrication: Wet sump

Frame: Aluminium twin-spar
Front Suspension: Inverted telescopic forks
Rear Suspension: Monoshock
Steering Damper: Hydraulic Adjustable
Bodywork: Carbon Fibre
Wheel Front: 16.5"
Wheel Rear: 16.5"
Tyres: Bridgestone

Front: 2 x 305mm carbon discs; 2 x radial mount, monoblock, four piston calipers
Rear: 1 x 220mm ventilated steel disc; 1 x four piston calliper

Wheelbase: Variable
Overall Length: 1420mm
Castor (Rake/Trail): Variable
Seat Height: 850mm
Dry Weight: Over 145kg
Fuel Capacity: 23.8 litres

Lubricants: Fuchs Silkolene
Tyres: Bridgestone
Brakes: Brembo
Exhaust System: Akrapovic
Data Acquisition System: 2D Datarecording
Suspension: Ohlins
Clutch: Suter Racing Technology
Spark Plugs: NGK
Sprockets: VAZ
Chain: RK
Radiator: Simantke

MotoGP, 2004, Kawasaki Racing Team

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