Following on from successful tests in Malaysia earlier in the year, the Kawasaki Racing Team arrived at a cold and cloudy Jerez circuit today to start the European phase of their preparations for the 2005 MotoGP season.
With the continued development of the Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine a priority in the run up to the new season, Kawasaki's regular MotoGP pilots, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann, were joined at Jerez today by Japanese test rider Kazuki Shimizu.
Cold track temperatures delayed the start of testing, and the onset of rain at noon forced a long break in the test schedule, but both Hofmann and Shimizu managed to work their way through a shortened test programme despite the conditions.
While Hofmann evaluated a number of new components aboard his Ninja ZX-RR, Shimizu worked closely with Kawasaki engineers from Japan and Europe to develop further the 'big bang' engine that Nakano debuted during early season testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
Nakano's test programme, also centred around the big bang engine, was brought to a premature end when the 27-year-old Japanese rider suffered a minor injury after colliding with the fuel tank of his Ninja ZX-RR under heavy braking.
Nakano underwent a precautionary examination by doctors at Jerez hospital, where he received stitches in a small cut to his inner thigh, but returned to the circuit later in the afternoon. The Kawasaki rider will make a decision in the morning about riding in tomorrow's second day of testing at Jerez.
Alex Hofmann: #66
"Track conditions haven't been ideal today. Even before the rain arrived the track was slippery and quite dirty because of the building work going on around the circuit. The track started to dry out in the afternoon, but there are always spots on this circuit that seep water long after the rain has gone, which means the track was never completely dry. We only managed to test a few things on the bike this afternoon, but at least we got a feel for the circuit ready for a full day of testing tomorrow."
Shinya Nakano: #56
"I didn't get in one fast lap today. We started testing late because of the low track temperatures and then I managed to pick up an injury just as the rain arrived. I've had stitches in a small cut, which is quite painful whenever I move, so I'll wait until tomorrow morning before making a decision about riding during the second day of the test."
Kazuki Shimizu: Test Rider
"This is my first time in Europe, so part of today was spent learning the circuit as well as continuing the test and development work on the latest ZX-RR engine that we started in Malaysia. Hopefully the track conditions and the weather will improve tomorrow and we'll be able to put in a full day of testing."