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Kawamura gives lowdown on Kawasaki projects

Kawamura gives lowdown on Kawasaki projects

The President of Kawasaki Motor Racing, Yoshio Kawamura, has provided motogp.com with an overview of the Japanese firm´s MotoGP activity.

Although Kawasaki´s start to the 2008 season has not been quite what the Japanese manufacturer would have hoped for the brand is firmly committed to its MotoGP project, as Yoshio Kawamura, the President of Kawasaki Motor Racing, confirmed in a recent interview with motogp.com.

MotoGP is highly valued by the Japanese firm who made their full-time return to the premier class in 2003 for the second year of the new 4-stroke MotoGP era, and slowly found their place on the Grand Prix scene.

Speaking to the official website of the World Championship Kawamura underlined the reasons why MotoGP is so important to the company, saying, `Previously Grand Prix was in its own realm and wasn´t really connected to the experience of everyday street bikers, but the MotoGP class has enhanced things and taken it global.´

`With races in Europe and Australia and this year two in the United States the sport helps us with publicity, earns us a bigger following, helps us with selling bikes and improves our brand identity.´

The Akashi-based factory had a breakthrough year in 2007, making the most of the switch to 800cc machinery, with the latest version of Ninja ZX-RR allowing its riders to regularly fight from top spots on the grid.

Significant progress followed a major overhaul of the team structure between the 2006 and 2007 seasons, with Kawasaki playing a bigger role in the management of the racing team, after the operation previously led by Harald Eckl had not matched the expectations of the factory.

`We have had a European base for our MotoGP project since 2007, when we established a team in Holland,´ Kawamura explained. `Everything is there, our racing staff, everything is organised there. Speaking with Michael Bartholemy the communication between the team and the factory is much better now and it makes us stronger.´

The new-look Kawasaki Racing team and the potential of the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR also helped to secure the services of American hotshot John Hopkins, in a push for ever better results this year. However, an accident in Australia during pre-season hampered Hopper´s debut with Kawasaki - but their management are confident that there is a lot more to come from him.

`Hopkins got injured at Phillip Island earlier this year and it took time for him to recuperate. Since the race in Portugal he is virtually back to full fitness so we hope he will start to show his full capabilities soon,´ stated Kawamura.

Hopkins spearheads the Kawasaki factory effort alongside Australian Anthony West, who had brilliant debut campaign with `Team Green´ in the MotoGP class last season, standing in for Olivier Jacque midway through the year and quickly proving his worth. But last year´s fairytale start from the former 250cc privateer didn´t last and he is currently struggling to keep up with the rest of the MotoGP field.

However, Kawamura is confident in West´s ability and hopes he will be able to improve results soon. `We´ve got a contract with John Hopkins for this year and next year,´ notes the Japanese boss. `With Anthony West we did half the season last year and his contract runs until the end of this year. He still hasn´t reached his potential so we hope things will start to go well and will be good for the rest of the season.´

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, Kawasaki Racing Team

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