DE PUNIET SIXTH FASTEST ON CLOSING DAY AT LOSAIL
The curtain finally came down on the first official test of the 2007 season after three non-stop days at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, with Randy de Puniet closing out the test with the sixth fastest time of the day aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.
Once again the 26-year-old Frenchman was left to fly the flag alone for Kawasaki, as the after effects of his day one crash again forced Olivier Jacque to sit out most of his planned test session today.
The former World Champion completed 12 laps of the 5.380 km Losail circuit this morning, enough to convince him that he hadn't recovered sufficiently and that to continue testing would have only risked further injury for little return in terms of usable feedback.
With his teammate once again sidelined, de Puniet completed a marathon 96 laps today. The Kawasaki pilot worked his way through an accelerated tyre testing schedule in order to identify a suitable rear race tyre for when the Kawasaki Racing Team return to Qatar, for the opening event of the season in just four weeks time.
Although not completely satisfied with the race tyre options tested today, de Puniet still managed to post a lap time this morning on a qualifying tyre that was more than a second better than his best lap aboard the 990cc machine on a qualifier last year. But, after completing his flying lap, the Kawasaki pilot was convinced he could find even more speed when he returns here for the race.
The Kawasaki Racing Team now heads back home for a brief four-day rest before travelling again to Jerez, Spain, for the last test of the 2007 pre-season, starting on Friday 23rd February.
Randy de Puniet: 96 Laps - Best Lap 1'56.753
"It's been a long and exhausting day; I have done almost 100 laps! In the afternoon we did a complete race simulation first, followed by a half-race distance, and the lap times were not so bad. We still need to improve our performance from the middle of the race until the end. We found a very good rear tyre but it seems that the front choice was not the best one for a whole race, as it dropped after ten laps. I kept my rhythm steady but for sure without the movement I could have ridden three or four tenths faster. I was tired then but I wanted to try another qualifier. Unlike this morning, I couldn't get the most out of it though. Apart from that, it was good to see the potential of the bike over race distance. There is still some room for improvement in both tyres and bike performance, but we are heading in the right direction."
Olivier Jacque: 12 Laps - Best Lap 2'02.081
"This morning I thought that I was fit enough to ride, but when I got on the bike I realised that I was not. After a couple of laps I started to feel a little bit dizzy. My sight wasn't right and I couldn't ride the bike as always. It was too dangerous to continue and we decided to stop instead of doing a bad job and worsening the situation. I'm really disappointed because I really like this track. I did many tests here in the past and was expecting a lot from these three days. Anyway, now this is past and I only have Jerez in my mind. I will try and make up the time there."
Ichiro Yoda: Kawasaki Racing Director
"My assessment of this three-day test is positive. We found a good base set up but still we have to make some modifications, mainly in chassis balance, but we are happy with our performance. It is really important that we haven't suffered any relevant problems, either electronic or mechanical. Finding a good package was important too and Bridgestone has done a very good job providing different tyres, which allowed us to improve day by day. We have a clear idea about which is going to be our rear tyre choice for the race but still some doubts with the qualifying tyre. Our rider's lap time on a qualifying tyre today was below our expectations. Anyway, it is nothing to worry about because we still have more to try at Jerez. Unfortunately, Olivier could only test for one day. It has been a shame for him, because he needs to ride, and for us as well as he is a great testing rider and would have given us a lot of useful information. We hope he will be completely fit for Jerez."