March 13, 2006 at 3:54 pm #11696GixParticipant
Shinya Nakano again proved the competitiveness of Kawasaki’s all-new Ninja ZX-RR, finishing with the third fastest time overall as the final day of the Jerez Test saw a dramatic increase in pace by the frontrunners.
Nakano was closely followed by his Kawasaki teammate, Randy de Puniet, who waited until the closing stages before putting in a flying lap that saw him jump up the timesheet to finish an impressive fifth fastest.
With tyre choice at Jerez critical, Nakano again started his test schedule working together with the Bridgestone technicians to confirm his choice of potential race tyres for the opening round of the season. The 28-year-old Japanese rider also evaluated some small changes to the fuel injection system on his Ninja ZX-RR, before trying two different qualifying tyres in the last 30 minutes of the test.
On his second run on a qualifier, and with just five minutes of the test remaining, Nakano shaved over half-a-second off the lap record, to finish this final test with the third fastest time overall. Speaking after his final outing of the preseason, he outlined some of the changes undertaken during the last opportunity for fine-tuning.
“Yesterday I felt like we still needed to take another step forward, so today we spent a lot of time looking for the last small improvements from the suspension, the fuel injection system and also from the tyres. I’m happy to say we found it, but then everyone else improved towards the end of the test, so we now need to make another small step during practice and qualifying for the opening race here. We know that some of the guys who didn’t have such a good test here will be quick to improve once the season starts, so we can’t afford to rest on our laurels,” said Friday’s fastest rider, before setting out his goals for the upcoming season.
“After such a successful test schedule over the past months, we will arrive at the first race with higher expectations than we have had in the past, and I’m confident that, in the 2006 Ninja ZX-RR, we have a package that will enable me to improve upon my fifth place in this race last year.”
De Puniet used the morning session to evaluate different suspension options on his Ninja ZX-RR, but switched back to his previous set-up after struggling to match his pace from yesterday.
The 25-year-old Frenchman lapped consistently throughout the afternoon, bettering his previous best time on race tyres at the end of his final ten-lap run.
During the course of the winter the Kawasaki Racing Team have travelled three times to the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, and once to Phillip Island in Australia, to test with regular Grand Prix riders Nakano and de Puniet.
Almost simultaneously development tests have been ongoing in Japan, with former 250GP rider Naoki Matsudo shouldering the testing duties. European Test and Development rider, Olivier Jacque has also completed two test sessions at the Doha circuit in Qatar since the MotoGP testing ban ended in January.
Team Manager Harald Eckl summed up Kawasaki’s positive outlook for the season after the Test at the Andalusian circuit.
“What can I say, other than that we are ready to go! Both the team and the riders are in excellent shape for the start of the 2006 season. We’ve done our homework, confirmed everything during a successful winter test schedule, and now we’re ready to start racing. I’m looking forward to travelling back to Jerez for the first race, and I’m confident that the team will acquit themselves well.”
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