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Nakano and de Puniet show determination in Shanghai

Nakano and de Puniet show determination in Shanghai

Nakano and de Puniet show determination in Shanghai

Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano and Randy de Puniet were left frustrated after the Grand Prix of China in Shanghai, as traction problems robbed both riders of the opportunity to do battle with their factory rivals at the front of the race.

Nakano brought his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR home in tenth place, with de Puniet two places further back in twelfth, as Honda's Dani Pedrosa converted a pole position start into his first premier class win in today's 22-lap race.

An aggressive start by Nakano saw him dive under two riders in as many corners to claim fourth place, but the 28-year-old Japanese rider was pushed back to seventh at the end of the opening lap, as three riders drafted past him on the front straight.

The Kawasaki rider hung onto the rear of the leading group for a further two laps, but the aggressive power delivery of his Ninja ZX-RR was causing his rear tyre to spin up out of the turns, losing him vital time out of every corner and eventually leading to him losing touch with the battle ahead of him.

Unable to close the gap, and now also struggling with deteriorating front grip on his Ninja ZX-RR, Nakano took the sensible option and rode for the points in the final third of the race. The Japanese ace held on to secure a top ten finish, but was left frustrated that he had not been allowed him to fulfil the potential shown in the opening lap because of problems beyond his control.

Nakano's Kawasaki teammate, Randy de Puniet, was also quick away from the line, but the MotoGP rookie lost ground on the run up to the first turn, as he struggled to select second gear on his Ninja ZX-RR.

The 25-year-old Frenchman was quick to get his head down in an attempt to make up the lost ground, but was frustrated when his rear tyre started to lose grip just six laps into the race. De Puniet continued to push as hard as possible but, with the rear tyre spinning up out of every turn, was unable to close the gap to the group of riders ahead and, like his teammate, was eventually forced to ride purely for the points.

Shinya Nakano

"I got a good start and the bike felt real good; I could push hard and I was enjoying fighting for position. But then a group of riders went past me and, while I managed to stay with them for a few laps, I started to lose ground when the rear tyre started spinning up out of the turns. We had similar problems in Istanbul, although this wasn't as bad, but it was enough to lose me time and to lose contact with the group ahead of me. Towards the end I started to lose grip at the front as well, and actually lost the front completely at one point. It was then that I decided I had a big enough gap over Elias and that riding for the points might be the best plan. It's frustrating, for sure, but I think it is a problem that we can overcome. I just hope we can find a solution before the French Grand Prix, as it's only one week away."

Randy de Puniet

"Heading into the first turn I couldn't get the bike to select second gear, and I had to back off the throttle before it would go in. When I looked up, the group in front of me had gone. I tried as hard as could to make up the lost ground, but then I started to lose grip at the rear, and it got progressively worse over the next ten laps. I'm disappointed not to have finished higher than I did in Istanbul, but I was riding right on the maximum. If I had pushed any harder then I would have crashed. Despite the disappointment, it was another race finish, and more experience for me. Now I need to look forward to next week, and my home race at Le Mans, where I hope I can secure a good result, both for me and the team."

Harald Eckl: Team Principal

"Clearly we still have some work to do if we are to close the gap to the front of the field. This weekend we have been down on top speed by 10 km/h on average, at a circuit that boasts the longest straight on the MotoGP calendar. To overcome this deficit our riders have been forced to push hard everywhere else on the circuit, and we saw today what effect this has on tyre endurance. Both riders suffered tyre problems today, but Shinya's front-end problems were particularly severe. We need to find more top speed from the engine, but we also need to identify the cause of the problem Shinya has experienced in the past two races. Whether we have time to find a solution before the next race at Le Mans is difficult to predict, but I hope it will be possible."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, POLINI GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, Randy de Puniet, Shinya Nakano

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