Kawasaki's competition manager, Michael Bartholemy, declared himself satisfied with the progress made by the team's four riders, as the season opening three day test at Sepang was brought to a successful conclusion this afternoon.
After two days evaluating new chassis and engine components, John Hopkins and Anthony West were able to focus this morning on fine-tuning the base set-up of their Ninja ZX-RR machines, before embarking on a race simulation as the heat, and the track temperatures, headed skywards during the afternoon.
While the two race pilots racked up the laps, test rider Tamaki Serizawa brought the paddock to a standstill when he debuted a screamer version of Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR.The distinctive high-pitched scream of the development bike was enough to bring a crowd of people out of their pit boxes and onto the pit wall as Serizawa flashed across the start finish line to continue the bike's first shakedown test.
Olivier Jacque gave the screamer motor its second outing during the afternoon session, with positive results. Both test riders will continue the evaluation of the bike during the second Sepang test in early February.
Hopkins and West now head for the second test of the season, which will take place at the Phillip Island circuit in Victoria, Australia, starting on 30th January and concluding on 1st February.
John Hopkins, "I'm happy with how things have gone, and I leave this test pretty motivated for the next. Overall I'm really pleased with the bike; we have a couple of small things to address, but we've now got a clear understanding of what our goal is and where we need to be, and I think we're ready to make the next step. I was pretty pleased with the first race simulation on the bike; the traction control works really well, so I didn't have to adapt my riding style so much to compensate for the drop off in grip as the tyres started to go off towards the end. This is a big positive. Now I'm looking forward to getting to Phillip Island. I followed Randy in the race there, and the Kawasaki looked to be working well, now we need to take it to the next level. It's another new track for me on the Kawasaki, and I hope the test in Australia will turn out to be as positive as these last three days in Malaysia have been."
Anthony West, "We tried a few more front tyres again today, working towards identifying the ones that give me the most confidence in the front, and that we can continue with during the next few tests. We also tried some different engine brake and traction control settings, before running a race simulation this afternoon. The idea of the endurance run was too give me a better feel for the bike when the tyre performance has started to drop off. The only problem today was that the track temperature was already quite high when we began, and that meant that the grip had already started to fall off. It was a bit weird, because I actually went faster towards the end, which we obviously weren't expecting. One positive point is that the revised chassis components appear to have eliminated the chatter that plagued us during the race here last season although, because of the grip issues, we will need to confirm this at Phillip Island next week. It's been a hard three days to be honest, because the heat and humidity really takes it out of you. Things should be a lot better at Phillip Island next week, although it was 40 degrees there when I was visiting my grandfather over Christmas. Hopefully it's cooled down a bit now."