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Kawasaki draw positives from Mugello performance

Kawasaki draw positives from Mugello performance

Kawasaki draw positives from Mugello performance

With key people from KH1 Japan in attendance at Mugello, the Kawasaki Racing Team faded at Mugello, but the performance of riders Shinya Nakano and Randy de Puniet gave the team a good understanding of the improvements needed. The team stayed behind along with development rider Olivier Jacque to undertake a day of testing on Monday.

Nakano had been eager to avoid the same fate as in Le Mans, where he incurred a stop-go penalty for a rolling start. The Japanese rider eventually finished 11th in Italy.

"I've been practicing my starts this weekend, and it seems to have done the trick; today I got my best start of the season to jump from fifth to third place by the first corner. But that's where the problems started. I just couldn't stay with the leading group, they simply drove past me on the straight and they were gone. The same was true with the second group; I could run with them through the corners, but they'd just disappear when we reached the straight. I had no problems with the bike, the tyres worked well throughout the race and I was pushing as hard as possible. But we still ended up outside the top ten, after John Hopkins passed me on the very last lap. I knew he was coming, but there is little you can do to defend your position when it's so easy to pass our bike on the straight. We know we need to find more top-end power, and we know we need to improve the driveability of the Ninja ZX-RR, and I think this can be seen quite clearly from Sunday's result."

Team-mate Randy de Puniet was also outside the points, with injury taking its toll on the Frenchman.

"That was a very difficult race, mainly because I started so far back on the grid and then made things worse by getting a bad start; I think I might have been close to last going into the first turn. I got my head down and managed to pass a few riders to move up to twelfth position, but then I started to get a lot of pain in my back, which I injured in the crash at Le Mans, and that made it difficult to do a good lap time. When Edwards came past me at the end I tried to stay with him, but it was impossible. But, although I would obviously have preferred to finish higher in the race, it wasn't such a bad result given our qualifying position. I've got one more race finish under my belt and I learnt a lot this afternoon as a result of having to fight through the field. Without the handicap of a bad start from the sixth row, and the problems with my back, I think there was potential to be up there fighting with the group that Shinya was in. The bike worked well, my crew did a great job and I just hope we can go to Catalunya in two weeks and come away with a good result."

Team Principal Harald Eckl was disappointed with the positions, but refused to see the race as an entirely negative experience.

"This weekend we have a number of key people from KHI in Japan visiting the team, and I think that they will leave here with a better understanding of where our development efforts need to be focussed after today's race. Improvements in the driveability of the Ninja ZX-RR are important, but as Shinya showed, we also need more top speed if we are not to concede positions on the straights at fast circuits like Mugello and Catalunya. Both riders rode a good race today, but the end result doesn't really do their efforts justice."

MotoGP, 2006, GRAN PREMIO D'ITALIA ALICE, Kawasaki Racing Team

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