Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet will be aiming to improve upon last year's premier class outing here, when he crashed out on lap nine. In previous years, when riding in the 250cc World Championship, the Frenchman proved more than capable of conquering the circuit: scoring a couple of top ten finishes at the track. After the disappointment of last week's Portuguese Grand Prix, where a mechanical fault ended his race, de Puniet hopes for a better result at the Twin Ring on Sunday.
Anthony West is also familiar with the circuit, having raced 1000cc V-twins throughout Japan in his younger years, as well as competing in 250s, and one 500cc race, at world championship level. He also took part in an endurance race here once, his team coming second, so he's put enough laps in to know his way around. The 26-year-old Australian, who recently signed to stay with the Kawasaki squad next season, will be hoping to overcome his recent struggles with set up and show both strength and stamina this weekend.Wild card entry, Akira Yanagawa, will be joining the Kawasaki team for a one-race ride on the Ninja. Currently leading the All Japan Superbike Championship on a ZX-10R, the 36-year-old will be aiming to exorcise his Motegi demons: he crashed out and broke his pelvis on lap six of the Pacific Grand Prix in 2002, riding the 990cc ZX-RR on its debut MotoGP outing.
Kawasaki's MotoGP history at Motegi is somewhat chequered: of the two factory riders and a wild card entry taking part last year, none finished. However, Shinya Nakano secured a 3rd position here in 2004, claiming the team's first podium spot since returning to the class five years ago.
Certainly, with four straights and a lot of tight corners, the super-fast 800cc ZX-RR could do very well here and, with three green bikes due to line up on Sunday's grid, who knows what will happen?