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Shinya Sixth Fastest In Catalunya - March 3rd 2006

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    Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano ended the opening day of the Catalunya IRTA test sixth fastest, as the all-new Ninja ZX-RR made it's European debut after a winter of development and testing overseas.

    With rain forecast for the weekend, Nakano started today's test working with Bridgestone to evaluate another batch of new front and rear slicks from the Japanese tyre manufacturer.

    Still running with the same basic set-up on his Ninja ZX-RR from Malaysia, and cautious of the cold track conditions, Nakano quickly set about familiarising himself once again with the Catalunya circuit.

    The 28-year-old Japanese rider lapped consistently throughout the day, rarely dropping far from the top of the timesheet, and eventually finished sixth fastest overall.

    For Nakano's Kawasaki teammate, Randy de Puniet, today's test ended prematurely when the 25-year-old Frenchman was highsided from his Ninja ZX-RR early in the afternoon session.

    De Puniet was examined in the Clinica Mobile following the crash, but suffered only from bruising on his lower back and has been passed fit to continue testing tomorrow.

    The Kawasaki rider was disappointed to miss out on much of the afternoon session, after consistent improvements in his lap times had seen him inside the top ten fastest times for much of the morning.

    Although battered and bruised, de Puniet remains confident that further improvements are possible during the remaining two days of testing at Catalunya.

    Shinya Nakano: #56 - 1'44.399 (61 Laps)"It's good to be back testing in Europe, because this is where most of our races are held and it's important that we find a set-up that works on the European tracks, and in European weather conditions. Today we started on the same set-up we ran in Malaysia, because it was important to get tyre testing out of the way, as we're not sure about the weather this weekend. Most forecasts seem to be predicting rain. The cold track temperature today meant we were unable to test as many tyres as we wanted, but we finished close to the top of the timesheet, so I'm happy with what we have achieved."

    Randy de Puniet: #17 - 1'45.111 (59 Laps)"It was disappointing to have to end the test early because of the crash. We made good progress this morning and I was confident of improving further on my lap time, but the crash meant we were not able to continue with the two test runs we had planned for the afternoon. I don't really know what caused the crash. I opened the gas in the same way as always, but this time the bike just highsided me. It was a big crash, and I came down quite hard on my back, but thankfully I've only suffered some bruising. For sure I'll be sore in the morning, but it won't stop me from continuing with the test, and I'm hopeful that I can continue to improve over the next two days."