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Kawasaki out for improvement at first European round

Kawasaki out for improvement at first European round

Although Kawasaki perhaps didn't have the season start that they would have liked in Qatar, the team will be hoping to pick up the pace for the first European round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship this weekend.

Although Kawasaki perhaps didn't have the season start that they would have liked in Qatar, the team will be hoping to pick up the pace for the first European round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship this weekend. Having tested well at the Circuito de Jerez, especially in the final session of the Official Test one month ago, the hard work will mainly lie with the pairing of Randy de Puniet and Olivier Jacque as they aim for high positions in Spain.

The French duo were the top two riders in the final preseason session, with De Puniet in particular impressing during the 40 minute ‘qualifying' shootout to finish fifth. Such momentum didn't continue in Qatar, with the 26 year old failing to finish the race, but the former 250cc standout is keen to make amends on his MotoGP debut at Jerez in a less ‘risky' fashion. He was an absentee from the race last year after a crash in the morning warmup.

"Jerez is one of my favourite tracks; it is very technical but fun to ride," commented De Puniet. "I like the style of the corners; second-third gear in the corner and even fourth gear at the last part, which makes you take them at very high speed. The atmosphere at this track is amazing, crowded with people from all over the world. The main straight is not so long, which is good for us, but it is not easy to overtake. There are only three points where you can pass: the first and last corners and after the back straight. We were very competitive there during the IRTA tests, with only an issue with the engine power delivery. In Qatar we tried different mappings that helped a lot and I hope we will confirm it on Friday. If we can get a good grid slot and make a good start, I hope I can fight for a top six or seven finish. But I won't take unnecessary risks this time, as my main concern is to finish the race, though I will try to do it in the best position possible."

Having eased himself back into MotoGP action, Olivier Jacque hopes to make further steps forward at Jerez. The veteran will only have to concentrate on his riding over the weekend, with race tyres already selected based on data gathered in testing.

"The Qatar race was the first step, but I know that the race rhythm was not so fast and I need to improve it here," said the 33 year old. "The most important thing was to understand the bike better and check myself. Now I know that I am still capable to race and that makes me face this GP with more confidence. Jerez is a demanding and technical circuit; short, narrow and a bit bumpy. The last test here was hard because the bike was not so easy to ride, but this time will be better. The straight is shorter than Qatar, the power delivery has been improved and one of the strengths of our machine is the corner speed, which is very important in Jerez. I am very optimistic for this race but not under any illusions as there are still some things that need to be improved, both from the machine side and myself, to be 100% competitive."

Kawasaki Racing Director Ichiro Yoda has also revealed the instructions given to his riders ahead of the weekend, and the reassurances given regarding power delivery on the Ninja ZX-RR800.

"Randy didn't achieve his target in Qatar, but I'm sure this time he will. We had a talk and I asked him to be calmer this time and finish the race. We would be happy if he could qualify on the second or first row and finish the race among the first eight. Olivier showed his talent in Qatar and we hope he will start from third row and finish in the top ten this time. We already have a very good set up for Jerez that only needs to be adjusted. The procedure will be easier this weekend. We know the track and successfully tested there a month ago, finishing first and second. The engine was the main problem then, but in Qatar we found some solutions that made the power delivery friendlier from the bottom to full throttle. I hope we can corroborate that as the rest of the package is already working very well."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, GRAN PREMIO bwin.com DE ESPAÑA, Kawasaki Racing Team

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