Kawasaki Superstock - 2005
Kawasaki introduced its ZX-10R to the National Superstock Championship in 2004 and celebrated its debut at Silverstone in the opening round with pole position for the MSS Discovery team's Steve Allan.
Pole position was followed with a third place in the opening race and, just as the 2004 campaign began with success, so it was to end with even greater success and reward.
Allan went on to take pole position before winning his home round at Knockhill and the tall Scotsman eventually scooped seventh place in the series.
"I knew from the very first time I sat on the ZX-10R that we had something very, very special," recalls Allan. "And the machine was an instant hit with pole position at Silverstone."
While Allan suffered a mid-season broken collarbone at Mallory Park, the MSS Discovery stepped up its interest in the ZX-10R, recruiting talented young Frenchman Julien da Costa for three of the remaining four rounds.
Few could have predicted what would happen next as Da Costa joined a new team, raced a Superstock-specification ZX-10R for the first time, visited new tracks and rode on Pirelli tyres for the very first time in his career.
He blitzed the opposition on his debut, cruising across the line to take victory in the Croft round by more than two seconds.
The team's Nick Morgan recalls: "Julien really proved the potential of the ZX-10R that day. However, we felt Croft was a relatively straight forward circuit for Julien to learn and to make his debut on but Cadwell Park was next a completely different challenge."
Da Costa, 22, once more proved invincible at the tight Cadwell Park as he cleverly monitored the weaknesses of the opposition before snatching the lead with three laps to go to secure a second successive win.
Da Costa missed the Oulton Park round to contest the Bol d'Or for Kawasaki before returning to the National Superstock action to finish second in both races of the double-header final round at Donington Park.
"I have always been a strong believer in the performance of Kawasaki race machinery," reports Da Costa. "To come to the UK and race the ZX-10R was an opportunity I had no hesitation in accepting."
Victories at Croft and Cadwell Park and sixth place in the series for Da Costa convinced the MSS Discovery team that they had a special talent in their squad and quickly signed the affable young Frenchman for a British Superbike Championship ride aboard the ZX-10R in 2005.
MSS Discovery's Stuart Simmonds reveals: "As soon as he won at Croft we were immediately alerted to an obvious interest from other teams in Julien, we set about a plan and within a month had agreed terms with Julien and Pere for 2005."
Simmonds concludes: "Our 2004 National Superstock Championship campaign probably had everything you would have expected. It's a series for up-and-coming riders, involves every manufacturer and with that it is very difficult to maintain a level of consistency. However, with the arrival of Julien da Costa in 2004 the series proved its worth in discovering new talent and did a great job for the MSS Discovery Kawasaki squad."