The Kawasaki Racing Team concluded their final day of testing at the Sepang circuit today, with Shinya Nakano and Randy de Puniet both setting their fastest lap times of the test during the afternoon session.
Both Kawasaki riders were subjected to a heavy workload over the three-day test, completing a combined total of more than 300 laps around the 5.548km Sepang circuit, as they continue the development of Kawasaki's new Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine.
Nakano started this morning's session by running comparison tests on different set-ups, before switching bikes to evaluate a revised chassis. He then ran an 18-lap race simulation in the afternoon, in which he saw a significant improvement in his average lap time compared to this same test last year.
Nakano's Kawasaki teammate, de Puniet, also concentrated today on comparing suspension settings, as he worked with his crew to refine the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR. In the afternoon the 24-year-old Frenchman improved upon his lap time by 0.5s, before having to abandon a planned race simulation due to a minor technical problem.
Nakano and de Puniet also tested a revised exhaust system on their Ninja ZX-RR machines, which both riders agreed offered better throttle response at the bottom end of the rev range.
The Kawasaki Racing Team will travel directly from Malaysia to Australia, to participate in a further three-day test at Phillip Island, starting on Tuesday 31 January.
Shinya Nakano: #56 - 2'01.27 (72 Laps);
"Today was very demanding because we did a lot of laps, but we also managed to complete our test programme, which is very important at this stage with a new bike. We tested some different settings and components this morning, with positive results, before running an 18-lap race simulation during the afternoon. My lap times on race tyres were consistent, and very close to Loris Capirossi's race times from last year, so we ended the test on a positive note. We still have some work to do during the next tests in Australia and Malaysia, but we have already made a lot of progress with the new bike and we definitely have a clear direction for future development."
Randy de Puniet: #17 - 2'02.18 (62 Laps);
"We tested a lot of different suspension components, both front and rear, today to identify the best set-up on the bike. We also ran a race simulation in the afternoon, but I had to cut this short due to a small problem on the bike. I improved on my previous best lap time by almost 0.5s, so today has been very positive for us. Overall, this has been a successful test. We've completed a lot of work and seen an improvement in lap times every day. Hopefully we can continue the same trend at Phillip Island next week."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager;
"This has been a successful first test for the new bike, and I'm confident that the information we have collected will be converted by Kawasaki's engineers into further improvements to the engine before we return to Sepang in February. Both riders were very positive about the chassis and the handling of the bike, and I think we've made a definite step forward in this area. Shinya's fastest lap today was almost 0.5s faster than Loris Capirossi's pole position time from the race here just four months ago, and I think this indicates best of all the progress we've made over the winter. Randy has also impressed during this test with his consistency, and also how close his lap times are to Shinya's. I'm confident that with the new ZX-RR and our two riders we will see a clear improvement in our championship standing during the 2006 season."