The Kawasaki Racing Team were out in force for a development test at Catalunya today, as Olivier Jacque returned to the team to test alongside regular Kawasaki pilots, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann.
While Jacque started the day with shakedown tests on the two Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machines he'll race at Sachsenring and Valencia, Nakano and Hofmann got straight down to testing with Kawasaki's tyre partner Bridgestone.
For Nakano the aim of today's test was to evaluate a new profile rear tyre from Bridgestone, but the conditions conspired against him. For comparison purposes Nakano started the test on the same tyre he used in yesterday's race, but before he could switch to the new tyre the onset of rain forced him back to the Kawasaki pit box.
The Japanese rider patiently sat in the pit box waiting for the weather to change, but with the rain continuing on and off throughout the day, any plans to return to the track to complete the planned tyre test had to be abandoned.
Hofmann took advantage of the damp conditions to test for the first time the wet tyre that took Olivier Jacque to second place in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai six weeks ago, with positive results.
The 25-year-old German rider was impressed with the improvements the latest wet tyre offered over the old, especially when combined with revisions to the electronics package fitted to his Ninja ZX-RR.
For Jacque the day ended with a minor crash, but the 31-year-old Frenchman declared himself happy with his progress after working his way through an intensive test schedule with his new crew.
Jacque slid off his Ninja ZX-RR uninjured right at the end of the day, after being caught out by the combination of a full wet tyre on a rapidly drying track.
Shinya Nakano: #56;
"Today we intended to concentrate purely on tyre testing, as Bridgestone have a new profile rear slick for evaluation. I went out this morning on the same tyre I used in the race yesterday to allow a direct comparison, but the rain started before we'd even had a chance to put the new tyre on the bike. The weather looked like it might improve in the afternoon, but when it was still raining at four o'clock we decided to finally call it a day."
Alex Hofmann: #66;
"Conditions weren't ideal for testing today, but at least the rain gave me a chance to try for the first time the wet tyre that Olivier used in China. Bridgestone have definitely made some improvements with this wet weather tyre; the performance was very impressive. We also tested some new engine components, together with some slight modifications to the electronics package that made the bike a little easier to control on the throttle. Overall, despite the weather, it's been a productive test."
Olivier Jacque: #19;
"The idea of today's test was to shakedown the two bikes I'll use for the Sachsenring race next month. Despite conditions that weren't really ideal for testing, we've managed to get a lot done today. We've tried different set-ups on the bike and we've also had the opportunity to test a range of wet tyres from Bridgestone. Unfortunately, right at the end of the day I crashed after being caught out with a wet tyre on a drying track. The rear just came round on me mid-corner and down I went. I've lost some skin off my little finger, but apart from that I'm perfectly okay and I'm looking forward to my next outing on the bike. Overall it's been a good day of testing."