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Kawasaki ready for three rider Laguna challenge

Kawasaki ready for three rider Laguna challenge

Kawasaki Racing are all set to run three 800cc Ninja ZX-RR bikes at this weekend's Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

Kawasaki Racing are all set to run three 800cc Ninja ZX-RR bikes at this weekend's Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

‘Team Green' welcome the brother of current world champion Nicky Hayden, Roger Lee, to their ranks as a wildcard at Laguna Seca, the American having tested the ZX-RR in Japan earlier this month. Like his more established sibling, the younger Hayden also has valuable experience and knowledge of the Californian track and is full of anticipation ahead of Sunday's race.

He certainly has a big test in front of him as he will also be competing in the AMA Supersport race for Kawasaki on the same day, but Hayden will not be overawed by the job at hand. He commented: "It's a track I know pretty well and I've had a lot of luck here in the past. This weekend's a big challenge to learn more about the ZX-RR, and about riding in a top level race, but I don't have any big expectations and I'm not putting too much pressure on myself."

Randy de Puniet, meanwhile, was frustratingly forced to retire on the penultimate lap in Germany and aims to bounce straight back with a strong performance. The hardy Frenchman described his debut at Laguna last year as the most difficult race of his life - as scorching heat affected riders and track alike.

The 2006 weekend was so hot that the recently laid track surface started to melt and the AMA support races were postponed, but De Puniet still managed 12th place and hopes to build on that experience this weekend.

He explained: "I'm still disappointed about the result last week but we had the speed, and did a good job of setting up the bike, so I'm feeling good for this weekend. I think it will be a hard race, though. Last year, it was difficult for me at Laguna: this track is like the Sachsenring in that it's short and tight and the Corkscrew is an especially difficult corner."

"I need to improve at that section this weekend, because I wasn't so fast there last year, but the bike and Bridgestone tyres should perform well and I think I'll be able to get a good result. It's not as hot as in 2006, which will be better for the engine, for the tyres and for me."

After making great progress since joining the team in June, De Puniet's 26-year-old Australian colleague Anthony West intends to add to his already creditable tally of 20 championship points in the Californian sunshine, despite this being his first visit to Laguna Seca.

West stated: "This is my first time in America, and I'm excited to be here, but obviously that also means it's my first time at this track so it could be hard to learn it and still go fast. When I rode in some Supersport races earlier this year, I hadn't ridden any of those three tracks before but I still did OK, so hopefully I can do the same here. I don't know if I can still improve my final position in the race this weekend, I'd need to get higher than eighth, but it's different at Laguna as you don't get the usual people up at the front, so it could be possible."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, RED BULL U.S. GRAND PRIX, Kawasaki Racing Team

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