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Kawasaki pleased with Official Test

Kawasaki pleased with Official Test

Kawasaki pleased with Official Test

Whilst Yamaha were the standout team of the MotoGP Official Test leaderboard this past weekend, the performance of Kawasaki couldn't fail to impress at the Catalunya circuit. Both riders Randy de Puniet and Shinya Nakano and Team Manager Harald Eckl were happy with the excellent results achieved in testing.

The Kawasaki riders were amongst those to take part in the timed session for the BMW M Award. A soaking wet affair, it was something of a baptism of fire for de Puniet in his first qualifying session. The 25-year-old Frenchman made a cautious start in the wet, increasing the pace only after assessing the level of grip available from a very cold and wet Catalunya track. While a number of more experienced riders were caught out by the slippery conditions, de Puniet was consistent and avoided unnecessary risks, finishing tenth. He had suffered a crash during the Friday session, but was feeling much better yesterday.

"The bruising from my first day crash was better this morning and it only took five laps for me to improve on my best time from yesterday," declared the MotoGP rookie.

" Once again the team did a great job during this test. In dry conditions we found a good set-up and I was happy to finish yesterday with the sixth fastest time. The bike worked well during the wet qualifying session today, and I managed to improve my time with each lap completed, so I'm happy with that. But, of course, I would have been happier to finish higher than tenth position." Thinking ahead to the upcoming test, de Puniet added "I'm looking forward to testing at Jerez later this week, as it's always been one of my favourite tracks and I think it will suit the Kawasaki very well."

Just one place behind his Kawasaki team-mate, Shinya Nakano looked almost certain to break into the top five towards the end of the session, until a near highside forced the Japanese rider to back off the throttle on his final flying lap.

Although disappointed not to have finished higher during the wet qualifying session, Nakano remained upbeat about the previous two days of testing in dry conditions.

"The rain and cold made conditions for qualifying really difficult, the track was very slippery in places. But after so much testing it was good to ride competitively again, even if it was only for a 45-minute session."

On his performance in the BMW M Award session, Nakano described the crash which ruled him out of the running for the prize.

"At the start I didn't have a good rhythm on the bike, but this improved towards the end and as I got a feel for the level of grip available I was able to start improving my speed. But then, towards the end of the session, I lost the rear and the bike almost highsided me. That knocked my confidence a little and there just wasn't enough time to get back up to speed before the 45 minutes were up. While I'm disappointed with 11th place in qualifying today, I'm happy with the progress we've made overall, and also with finishing third fastest in dry conditions yesterday."

Team Manager Harald Eckl took the time to assess the team's first Official Test of 2006, and elaborated on how he sees the Ninja ZX-RR.

"Catalunya is a fast circuit, and not one that has suited the Kawasaki in the past, but this weekend both riders have been closer to the top of the timesheets and this confirms our feeling from the overseas tests that in the new Ninja ZX-RR we have a very competitive package indeed. But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. In the wet conditions today we could see that we still have some work to do on the electronics package, to improve driveability and to make the bike easier for the rider to control," commented the Kawasaki boss.

"Overall, this has been a successful test for us, and I leave here quite satisfied with the performance of the bike and the riders, and I'm looking forward to the final pre-season test at Jerez next week."

MotoGP, 2006, Kawasaki Racing Team

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