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Kawasaki outside top ten in Qatar

Kawasaki outside top ten in Qatar

Kawasaki outside top ten in Qatar

Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano rode a determined race at the Losail International circuit on Saturday , overcoming the traction problems that have plagued him all weekend to take a hard fought eleventh place in the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

A fast start from ninth place on the grid saw Nakano lying fourth into the first corner, but the Kawasaki rider was quickly swallowed up by the chasing pack as he struggled to get his Ninja ZX-RR to hook up out of the turns.

By the halfway point Nakano looked set to secure a top ten finish, but was unable to hold off a determined attack by Kenny Roberts, who drafted past the Kawasaki rider on the short straight at the back of the circuit.

Nakano immediately fought back, but was unable to close the gap sufficiently to mount a challenge on Roberts to retake tenth place.

The 28-year-old Japanese rider tried one last charge towards the end of the race, but was eventually forced to settle for eleventh place, and five championship points, at the chequered flag.

Randy de Puniet's run of bad luck continued today, with the Kawasaki rider again failing to notch up his first MotoGP race finish, after crashing out of the Grand Prix of Qatar on the opening lap.

The MotoGP rookie was forced to retire through injury from the opening race of the season in Jerez two weeks ago, but arrived in Qatar determined to make amends with a points scoring finish in today's race.

But, after a lightning fast start, that saw him make up three places in the run to the first corner, the 25-year-old Frenchman race ended prematurely when he lost the rear of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR on the entry to the relatively slow, left-hand turn six.

Although small consolation after such a bitter disappointment, de Puniet was uninjured in the crash, and will be fighting fit for the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul on 30th April.

Shinya Nakano

"We just ran out of time to fix the problems that we have been experiencing all weekend, so all I could do this afternoon was go as hard as possible and try and salvage some championship points. Our main problem seems to be a lack of traction out of the turns, mainly because the power delivery off the bottom is just too aggressive and this is causing the rear tyre to break contact and spin up. So, it was difficult to accelerate hard out of the turns, which reduced my speed along the straights. Even on the short straight between turns three and four, people were just riding past me on the throttle, while I was struggling to get the bike to hook up through the gears. It must be something about this circuit, because the bike has worked well throughout winter testing and at the first race in Jerez. After a difficult weekend I'm just happy we ended today with a points scoring finish."

Randy de Puniet

"I got a good start and I felt comfortable on the bike, but after overtaking Alex Hofmann going into the slow left hander the rear just came round on me. I don't know why yet; hopefully the telemetry will tell us something when we get the bike back to the pit box. This is the worst possible end to a difficult weekend for me. My hand injury was a problem on Thursday, but this improved throughout the weekend and I was looking for a good result today. Obviously I am disappointed to have crashed out on the first lap, but the only thing I can do is look at why it happened, learn from it, and then put it behind me so that I can concentrate on preparing for the next race in Istanbul."

Harald Eckl: Team Principal

"It is a bitter disappointment to finish outside the top ten as a factory MotoGP team. Our main aim now needs to be to go away from here and work hard to improve power delivery, driveability and top speed, so we can come back stronger for the next race in Istanbul."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, Kawasaki Racing Team

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