Japanese rider, Shinya Nakano, will again spearhead Kawasaki's factory MotoGP campaign in 2006, aboard an all-new version of the Ninja ZX-RR, which is currently under development by Kawasaki engineers in Japan.
Nakano will be partnered at Kawasaki next season by up and coming French star, Randy de Puniet, who makes the step up to MotoGP after a successful apprenticeship in the hotly contested 125cc and 250cc World Championship classes.
The 2006 season will mark Nakano's third consecutive year with the Kawasaki Racing Team. In his debut year aboard the Ninja ZX-RR in 2004, the Japanese ace finished a creditable tenth in the World Championship standings, a position he is fighting to maintain this season with just two races remaining.
Nakano's build up to the 2006 season will start immediately after the final round of this year at Valencia, with two days of testing at the Spanish circuit aboard the new Ninja ZX-RR.
At the end of November Nakano, together with de Puniet, will travel to Sepang in Malaysia for further testing, before taking a well-earned break over Christmas.
Testing will resume for the Kawasaki Racing Team in January, again at the Sepang circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"I'm very happy to continue with the Kawasaki MotoGP project in 2006, which will be my third year with the team. MotoGP is more and more competitive every year and I'm looking forward to working with Kawasaki to develop the Ninja ZX-RR into a competitive package. I'm also pleased that I will be working with the same crew next year, including my crew chief, Fiorenzo Fanali. He is probably the most experienced person I have ever worked closely with during my career, and I feel I still have a lot to learn from him. And I'm happy that Randy de Puniet will be my teammate because, like me, he comes from the 250cc championship. I think our styles are similar and that we can work together, although Randy will have many things to learn on the MotoGP bike. But now, I need to concentrate on the last two races of this season; I'm still chasing a podium finish and I also want to secure a top ten position in the final standings once again."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager;
"I'm happy that Shinya will stay with the Kawasaki Racing Team next year because he is definitely our most valuable asset and, after two seasons, he's certainly one of the 'Kawasaki family' now. It's hard to imagine the team without him. The last race of the season is just two weeks away, but Shinya will be busy over the winter months, testing and improving the new version of the Ninja ZX-RR. I'm sure that with his input and experience, together with the expertise of Kawasaki's Japanese engineers, we will arrive at the first race in Jerez next year with a competitive motorcycle."