Shinya Nakano today concluded a successful evaluation of a big bang version of Kawasaki's 990cc, inline four-cylinder Ninja ZX-RR engine during two days of testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.
Sepang marked the first track test for the big bang ZX-RR motor, which is a result of an extensive winter development programme at Kawasaki's development facility in Akashi, Japan.
Nakano led an intensive evaluation programme over the course of the two-day test, as Kawasaki engineers collected and collated the on track data necessary for the next stage in the engine development programme.
And while the new engine is in the early stages of development, Nakano's comments at the conclusion of the test would indicate that development is moving in the right direction. The 27-year-old Japanese rider liked the characteristics and feel of the engine, whilst also identifying some areas for improvement.
Development will continue in Japan, with Nakano and his Kawasaki team-mate, Alex Hofmann, scheduled to test a revised version of the new engine at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain at the end of February.
Shinya Nakano: #56
"The first day I rode both the old and new versions of the ZX-RR engine for direct comparison purposes, but on the second day I stayed with the big bang version because it felt like there was a definite improvement in both acceleration and driveability. The new engine also makes the bike feel more stable and improves rear traction. Like all new developments, we still have quite a lot of work to do to get the best out of the engine, but overall I am happy with the progress we made in Sepang. It's only just over a week before testing continues at Jerez, but the aim is to carry out some changes to the engine to improve throttle response between now and then."
Naoya Kaneko: Technical Coordinator
"Sepang was primarily a shakedown test for the big bang engine, and a chance to collect the data that Kawasaki's engineers need to continue the development programme. The latest engine is still in the early stages of development, but the results so far have been positive. Shinya liked the feel and the characteristics of the new engine, but he also identified a few areas for improvement. The engine definitely has potential, which we'll be looking to unlock during further pre-season testing in Europe."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager
"The aim of this test at Sepang was simple; we were here to evaluate the latest version of the Ninja ZX-RR engine which features a revised firing order. By focussing only on Shinya, we have been able to collect comparative data that will prove invaluable to our development programme, and will allow our engineers to make the next step with the engine before we resume testing in Europe. We still have a number of other concepts to evaluate before making a final decision regarding engine specification for the coming season, but I definitely think our development programme has moved on a step as a result of this test."