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Jacque and Nakano team up again at Phillip Island

Jacque and Nakano team up again at Phillip Island

Jacque and Nakano team up again at Phillip Island

After missing the last round of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship through injury, Olivier Jacque will be back alongside Shinya Nakano in the Kawasaki Racing Team garage this week at Phillip Island for the Polini Australian Grand Prix.

Having crashed in the very first free practice session in Qatar, the 32-year-old Frenchman has been having daily physio since returning to Europe and has been given the all-clear by doctors to return to action at Phillip Island.

Scans and tests have confirmed that Jacque did not suffer any fractures or internal injuries from the low speed crash at the Losail Circuit. As Kawasaki's test rider, Jacque has been nominated to replace the injured Alex Hofmann at both the Australian and Turkish Grand Prix races.

A return to racing at Phillip Island is a perfect scenario for Jacque who rates the ultra-fast, 4.4 km seaside circuit as one of his favourites. Jacque last raced at Phillip Island in 2003 when he finished sixth in the MotoGP race, while in 2000 at the same track he clinched the 250cc World Championship after a memorable race with Nakano.

"I know every millimetre of the Phillip Island track, it is one of my favourites, and I have very happy memories there," commented Jacque. "When I worked at the riding school in February I was reminded of some of the things that make this such a fantastic track. Like the final curve onto the straight, the speed is amazing, you come off this corner like a rocket - it is a great feeling. And the uphill left-hander to Lukey Heights, which is completely blind as you bank the bike over and just wait for the curve to finish! I cannot wait."

"Shinya has shown the potential of the latest motor and the new Bridgestone tyres, plus the ZX-RR has precise handling, which is critical at the Island. My condition is improving quickly and I must thank the doctors from the Clinica Mobile who helped me so much, both at the track and for treatment at the Doha hospital. I expect to be fully fit for the Phillip Island race."

Nakano returned home to Japan after the Qatari GP to get accustomed to the Australian time zone in advance of Phillip Island. While in Japan Nakano has also spent time aboard a factory Ninja ZX-RR race bike, although not on the track, but static model in a wind tunnel as part of Kawasaki's aerodynamic development programme for its MotoGP project.

"It is not easy being on the bike in a wind tunnel running at 180 kph," said Nakano. "It's a surreal feeling, sometimes the wind force feels harder and more direct than at 300 kph out on the track. But it is an important job to assist the Kawasaki engineers to understand the aerodynamics for future development - and perhaps it is good training for Phillip Island. It is a great track, but sometimes the wind from the ocean can be a problem."

"As a rider you can have a lot of fun, especially in the high-speed sections. But for me the most important part, especially for overtaking, is through the hairpin and then the next turn, Siberia Corner - with the positive camber this is a challenging section, and a good set-up is critical. Top speed is also a key factor at the Island, and we have improved that with the latest engine upgrade, plus some more revs, so this should help to hold the slipstream with other riders. I want another top-five place this season."


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