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MotoGP - Nakano and De Puniet Impress in Sepang - February 16th 2006


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    Rain may have disrupted the final overseas test at Malaysia's Sepang circuit, but that didn't stop Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano topping the timesheets aboard his Ninja ZX-RR during the second day of the three-day test.

    Nakano spent the first day working on the set-up of the all-new Ninja ZX-RR, before starting the evaluation process on a number of different engine settings and components, developed by Kawasaki engineers in Japan to improve both top end power and driveability of the 990cc, inline four-cylinder motor.

    The set-up work paid off on day two, when Nakano set the fastest time of the day using settings that allowed more over rev from the Ninja ZX-RR engine.

    Intermittent rain disrupted the final day of testing, with Nakano limited to only 31 laps on a dry track, but despite the interruptions, the Japanese rider was able to complete his planned tyre tests with Bridgestone, with positive results.

    Randy de Puniet also spent the first day refining the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR, as well as testing a number of new rear tyres from Kawasaki's tyre partner, Bridgestone.

    The French rider, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday, also managed to improve significantly on his lap time from the previous Sepang test and now heads for the IRTA tests at Catalunya and Jerez confident of further improvements.

    The annual IRTA tests will take place at Catalunya from 3 to 5 March, and at Jerez from 10 to 12 March, with the first race of the 2006 season scheduled for 26 March, again at Jerez.

    Shinya Nakano #56: 2'01.80 (108 Laps)";

    The first day was all about setting the bike up with the new engine components, so we didn't really get a chance to put in any fast laps. On the second day we switched to an engine setting that allowed more over rev and this made the bike a lot easier to ride, allowing me to set the fastest time of the day. The rain during the last two days of the test limited the number of laps we've been able to complete, but despite this we still managed to complete our engine and tyre test programme. The three overseas tests have been very positive for Kawasaki, and now I'm looking forward to travelling to Europe for the IRTA tests at Catalunya and Jerez."

    Randy de Puniet #17: 2'02.37 (167 Laps)";

    Again, this was a very good test for both me and the team. We have worked through a number of different set-ups, as well as testing a lot of new tyres from Bridgestone, and I feel a lot more comfortable on the bike now. But the real measure is lap times, and I'm happy to say that I managed to improve my lap time compared to the last test here in January. So, this test has been very positive for us, and we head to Europe and the IRTA tests with a good feeling about the bike and the tyres."

    Harald Eckl: Team Manager";

    What this year's overseas tests have proved is that the new Ninja ZX-RR is a very competitive package. We have closed the gap on the front-runners compared to previous years, and this is a big motivation factor for the Kawasaki development engineers, the riders and our team. I'm happy with what Shinya and Randy have achieved during this test, especially Shinya posting the fastest time of the day yesterday. Now we need to focus on the IRTA tests at Catalunya and Jerez, where the build up to the season really begins."