Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano mastered difficult conditions today, at a cold and windy Catalunya, to finish the second day of the annual IRTA test with the third fastest time overall.
Nakano started the day with shakedown tests on the latest specification Ninja ZX-RR engine, before switching to his second bike, and an earlier version motor, to continue tyre testing with Bridgestone.
The 28-year-old Japanese rider lapped consistently throughout the day, rarely dropping outside of the top six, before securing third position on the timesheet with his final flying lap.
Despite still suffering from the effects of a heavy landing after highsiding his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR yesterday, Randy de Puniet also made significant improvements to his lap time, eventually finishing sixth fastest and ahead of a number of more experienced factory MotoGP riders.
Like his Kawasaki teammate, de Puniet also dedicated most of today's session to tyre testing, as the 25-year-old Frenchman and Bridgestone worked to complete their test schedule in the dry, but cold, conditions.
Today saw a strong performance from both Kawasaki riders, and one that stands Nakano and de Puniet in good stead for tomorrow's traditional qualifying competition. The fastest rider during a timed, one hour session tomorrow afternoon will leave Catalunya with a brand new car, courtesy of series sponsors, BMW - a prize both Kawasaki riders have said they would be happy to collect!
Shinya Nakano: #56 - 3rd (1'43.245)"This is a new experience, both for me and the team. In the past we have struggled to achieve a good result at this first European test, but today everything came together and we finished top three on the timesheet. For sure, we have to do the same tomorrow during the last day, but this result has provided a real boost to the team, all of whom have worked so hard to get us to this point. And we think there is more to come, because we still have a further evolution of the Ninja ZX-RR engine to test in Jerez next week. I also managed to do some tyre testing for Bridgestone today, but it is difficult to evaluate tyre performance when the track temperature is so low. Hopefully we can continue to improve tomorrow, although it looks like the rain that we managed to avoid today will definitely make an appearance for tomorrow's qualifying session."
Randy de Puniet: #17 - 6th (1'43.847)"This morning I was a little bit sore from my big crash yesterday, but the only place it was really noticeable was through the first split, where I was losing a little bit of time. This morning we concentrated on tyre testing with Bridgestone; with most of the tyres we tried offering some improvement despite the cold track conditions. Last thing this afternoon I tried a couple of laps on a qualifying tyre, and I'm happy with the lap times, but again I was losing a little bit of time on the first part of the track because of the soreness in my lower back and my ankle. I hope that it stays dry for tomorrow, as I'm confident that I can make further improvements before we head for the next test at Jerez."
Naoya Kaneko: Technical Manager"Today we ran shakedown tests with Shinya and Randy on the latest specification engine, with positive results, and we'll continue testing with this engine when we move on to Jerez for the second IRTA test next week. Conditions today haven't been ideal for testing, but both riders are happy with the base set-up on their respective bikes and we have managed to collect development data for Bridgestone, despite the low track temperature. We've pushed to complete our test schedule as quickly as possible because of the threat of rain, so tomorrow we have a few things to evaluate, but the main focus will be on the qualifying session in the afternoon."