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Kawasaki riders ready for Assen

Kawasaki riders ready for Assen

Kawasaki riders ready for Assen

The Gauloises TT Assen presents a special MotoGP challenge, and one that is eagerly anticipated by Fuchs Kawasaki riders, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann. Coming off a successful weekend of racing and testing in Barcelona last week, both riders are in a confident mood going into this Saturday's sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Nakano's seventh place at Catalunya was the best result by a Kawasaki rider since the Japanese factory returned to MotoGP at the end of 2002, while Hofmann's determined ride into eleventh was a reward for the consistency and pace the German rookie, about to start just his 14th MotoGP race, is capable of displaying.

Both Nakano and Hofmann stayed on at Barcelona after the race for a test day as part of Kawasaki's on-going engine development programme, with fuel injection settings and power delivery for the increasingly competitive Ninja ZX-RR the main focus for the two riders.

While Nakano appreciates the difficulty of Assen, he is also a fan of the track's unique character, with its sequence of banked corners born of the TT circuit's public road origins.

"Assen is very fast; there a lot of blind corners and it is difficult to see the next turn with the speed and change of direction," says Nakano. "But I like the track because the banked corners with high grip levels remind me of many tracks that I once raced in Japan.

"One thing you have to do each year at Assen is adjust to the speed, the bike feels very, very fast on the first few laps. Corner entry, change of direction and front tyre feel are important and these are the strong points of the new Ninja ZX-RR.

"My body is much stronger now than for the Barcelona race, which was a pleasant surprise for me, finishing seventh and keeping pace with a lot of the Honda guys."

The 6.027km track is a personal favourite of Hofmann's and was the scene of a superb tenth place finish in last year's rain-lashed race as a Kawasaki wild card entry.

"Assen is a highlight for me," adds Hofmann. "The track is the fastest roller-coaster in bike racing and there are always a lot of German fans there, so it's like a second home race - always a lot of fun.

"Tenth last year in the wet was a great experience for me and since then the 2004 model ZX-RR chassis has made a big step forward in steering and handling, which is critical for all the fast changes of direction at Assen.

"The Barcelona race was a trouble-free weekend for me, so hopefully, that's good sign, a change of luck, after some disappointing weekends. So, I'm going to Assen in a positive frame of mind and to try and repeat the job I did there last year."

MotoGP, 2004, GAULOISES TT ASSEN, Kawasaki Racing Team

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