BBC TV Commentator, and former bike and truck racer, Steve Parrish, will become only the sixth person to ride the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR this season, when he takes Kawasaki's MotoGP machine out for a test ride around the Donington Park circuit ahead of the British Grand Prix.
Parrish will test Randy de Puniet's bike, the same one he brought home in fifth place at Catalunya, at 12.30 on Thursday 21st June during the annual Day of Champions. The test ride will be broadcast on the BBC during the build up to their live coverage of the British Grand Prix on Sunday 24th June.
Steve Parrish was 22 years of age when he turned professional in 1976, riding alongside Barry Sheene in the Suzuki Grand Prix Team. His best year was 1977, when he finished fifth in the 500cc World Championship. Parrish, who is a practical joker of some repute in the paddock, then went on to win the British Championship before turning his attention to four wheels, where he became the most successful truck racer in history by taking five European titles.
After retiring from racing in 2002, the 53-year-old Briton quickly established himself as the resident expert on motorcycle racing at the BBC, with whom he's worked since 1985.
Parrish will be only the sixth person to ride the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR. Previously only Kawasaki's official riders - Randy de Puniet, Olivier Jacque, Naoki Matsudo, Fonsi Nieto - and temporary test rider, Anthony West, have thrown a leg over Kawasaki's MotoGP racer.
"Obviously I am very, very excited about riding the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR and particularly at Donington Park, my home Grand Prix and a circuit where I have ridden many times," declared Parrish.
"I have been looking at the Kawasaki all year and it looks to be a great bike, as Randy's fifth place at Catalunya proves. And it is obvious that the Bridgestone tyres are working very well too. It is going to be the second 800cc MotoGP bike that I've tried and I am really looking forward to riding this time, as I already have some idea from riding the Suzuki and it will be interesting to see if there are any differences. I feel like one of the luckiest men in the paddock, as I also rode all the 990cc MotoGP bikes last year."
"I must say that I have always been a great fan of the Kawasaki, and when you watch it on the circuit it seems that it handles very well. Hopefully this test is going to help our viewers to understand a little bit more about how good MotoGP bikes are. They see them on television but it's difficult to see on screen just how unbelievably fast they are, and how the riders have to be athletes to ride them. I will do only four laps and even this will be pretty exhausting. But this is not to prove myself, but rather to be able to explain better how tough MotoGP racing is when I am commentating," concluded Parrish.
Allowing Steve Parrish to test their Ninja ZX-RR ahead of the British Grand Prix is a new departure for Kawasaki. Previously the Japanese motorcycle giant has restricted journalist access to their current MotoGP racer to a one-day test at the end of the season.
"While it's unusual for us to allow someone other than our official riders to test the Ninja ZX-RR mid-season, we were happy to make an exception for Steve, as he is uniquely qualified to pass on his impressions of riding a MotoGP bike to the BBC's audience in the UK," said Kawasaki's Communications Manager, Ian Wheeler.
"And Steve will definitely get a true impression of the bike, as he will ride the Ninja ZX-RR on which Randy finished fifth in the Grand Prix of Catalunya; the only thing we'll change is the tyres. This is a unique opportunity, as Kawasaki won't release the bike for a test like this again until the end of the season."