The Kawasaki Racing Team began the final countdown to the 2005 MotoGP season at the opening day of the IRTA test session at Jerez in southern Spain today.
Factory riders Alex Hofmann and Shinya Nakano finished 8th and 9th respectively, both within one second of the fastest time, after the first of three test days.
The test opened in mild and sunny conditions, but the weather turned cloudy and cooler in the afternoon. Track temperatures varied between 21 and 32 degrees.
The focus for this test will be preparations in advance of the opening race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, at Jerez on April 10.
Tyre testing with technical partner Bridgestone will occupy much of the track time. A variety of compounds and constructions are on hand for evaluation, including three front tyres and seven rears.
Nakano continues to exclusively ride his Ninja ZX-RR race machines fitted with Kawasaki's new big-bang firing order 990cc, in-line four-cylinder motor. The motor running here in the same configuration as at last week's Barcelona IRTA test.
Nakano's teammate, Alex Hofmann, rode the 'screamer' version of the ZX-RR motor in the morning, before switching to the big bang for the afternoon session.
According to Kawasaki's MotoGP Technical Director, Ichiro Yoda, this engine specification will also be used for the opening race of the season. The next generation of engine updates are not planned until after the opening two races at Jerez and Estoril.
Alex Hofmann: #66 - 94 laps (1'41.702)
"I tried to fit in as much work as possible today because the weather forecast is not so good for tomorrow, which may well limit our track time. This was only my second day on the big-bang engine, so I needed to collect a lot of data, but I'm very happy with my progress. I did some laps in the 1'41s bracket, which is inside one second of the fastest time; and this was on a Bridgestone race tyre. Like Shinya I'm not completely comfortable with the engine braking set-up with the big-bang motor, so we need to do more work on that over the next two days, weather permitting of course."
Shinya Nakano #56 - 89 laps (1'41.775)
"I had a very good feeling from the tyres and bike today; Jerez is a good track for us and we have an excellent base set-up from our test here earlier this year. I have been able to do a lot of consistent lap times on race tyres, more so than Barcelona last week, which has helped as we work on our set-up and tyre combinations for the race here."
Ichiro Yoda - Technical Director
"Jerez is different from Barcelona for tyre performance. Here the loads are more evenly distributed on the left and right hand side of the tyre and, so far, the new compounds and constructions are working very well. We also have to evaluate the different spring balance of the new constructions with the suspension set-up. This morning Alex Hofmann did some set-up checks using the screamer motor before switching to the big bang firing order, which is the engine spec both riders will have for the first Grand Prix."