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Nakano Faster As Big Bang Development Continues - March 19th 2005


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    Glorious spring weather continued in Barcelona today, allowing the Kawasaki Racing Team to complete another intensive day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

    Riders Shinya Nakano, Alex Hofmann and Kazuki Shimizu completed a total of 160 laps in the build-up to the opening race of the season at Jerez on April 10. The three-day IRTA test concludes tomorrow.

    Nakano continued to focus on Kawasaki's new big bang Ninja ZX-RR engine, which only made its public track debut at the February Sepang test in Malaysia.

    The 27-year-old Japanese rider also evaluated new front and rear tyres from Kawasaki's tyre partner Bridgestone.

    Hofmann's main programme today was tyre testing with the latest generation of compounds and constructions aboard his Ninja ZX-RR fitted with the standard 'screamer' motor. Hofmann will switch to the big bang engine specification for tomorrow's final day of testing at Catalunya.

    Hofmann also briefly evaluated a different stiffness swinging arm and plans to do further work on this set-up tomorrow.

    Test rider Shimizu, who is riding the Circuit de Catalunya for the first time, continued in his role of gathering engine and fuel injection data to support the big bang motor development programme.

    Kawasaki's exhaust system sponsor Akrapovic supplied a range of different pipes for testing; including a four outlet system that Kawasaki technical director Ichiro Yoda said was the preferred option for the new revised firing order motor.

    Tomorrow's track schedule features the annual 40-minute qualifying shoot-out, with a BMW 1 Series car going to the rider who sets the fastest time.

    Shinya Nakano: #56 - 60 laps (1'43.688)

    "This was a very hard day, with a lot of tyre testing and trying to sort out some problems with the engine braking system on the new big bang motor. The bike is unstable on corner entry, so I have to ride around that, and this makes it hard work on the bike. One of the new Bridgestone rear tyres I tried was very good, with excellent side grip, and this helped me do my fast lap. The 2005 ZX-RR has a lot of potential, but I'll be happier when I'm going faster."

    Alex Hofmann #66 - 55 laps (1'44.668)

    "I did a lot of tyre testing today, mainly rears, to try and confirm some direction for the opening races of the season with the new compounds. Bridgestone have obviously been working hard and there is an improvement in rear side grip at maximum lean angle. The plan is for me to switch to the big bang engine tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to finding out how much it has improved since I first tested it at Jerez last month."

    Kazuki Shimizu: #40 - 45 laps (1'51.822)

    "I have been testing and learning the track at the same time today. This is a high-speed circuit, but I'm enjoying my first visit to Barcelona. My job is to support Shinya's engine test programme, to collect as much data as possible, and to ride fast without crashing."

    Ichiro Yoda - Technical Director

    "The big bang engine concept has a character that is different from the even firing order of the 'screamer' and this produces the corner entry problems that Shinya is experiencing. This test has helped us to understand the problem and we are working on a solution, but this will not be available for testing until next month."