KAWASAKI'S DE PUNIET EQUALS BEST MOTOGP RESULT IN SHANGHAI Randy de Puniet equalled his best performance in MotoGP today at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. The 22-lap race saw the French Kawasaki rider bring home his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR in ...
KAWASAKI'S DE PUNIET EQUALS BEST MOTOGP RESULT IN SHANGHAI
Randy de Puniet equalled his best performance in MotoGP today at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. The 22-lap race saw the French Kawasaki rider bring home his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR in eighth position, on a par with his previous best at Istanbul two weeks ago, and well ahead of last year's 12th place.
After a good start from seventh position on the grid, the Frenchman narrowly avoided a collision at turn one which forced three riders off the track, keeping his composure and riding with the leading group for much of the opening part of the race. However, a minor error caused him to lose the tow from the front five riders and he rode much of the rest of the race alone.
In a battle which saw numerous riders crash out on the demanding circuit, de Puniet put in consistent lap times to comfortably secure his top ten finish, just losing out on sixth position in the final laps. Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen overtook and de Puniet was unable to get back past them in the closing stages.
In dry conditions at the 5.281km track, de Puniet showed off an impressive top speed of 320.67km/h, with an average of 156.07km/h. Along with a successful suspension set-up and excellent performance from the Bridgestone tyres, he showed how well Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR is evolving after recent improvements.
The team were hoping for at least eighth position, so weren't disappointed, but strongly believe the bike is capable of a top five or six place finish. They now look forward to developing the bike further, ready for the next round at Le Mans in two weeks' time: Frenchman Randy's home Grand Prix.
De Puniet now has 19 points overall; running 13th in the championship.
Olivier Jacque's appearance at Le Mans is dependant on a medical assessment on Monday of the injury sustained in his Friday crash. The 33-year-old Frenchman will have the drain removed from his injured forearm by Doctor Mir in Barcelona, and only then will he find out whether a return to action at his home Grand Prix is a realistic proposition.
De Puniet: "The target was to finish eighth and I did but, after a positive weekend and this morning's warm up, I was expecting to finish in a better position. I am satisfied with the race, although I have to say that maybe I was too cautious. I didn't want to risk making any mistakes, which could have ruined my chances. I got a good start and kept my position on the leading group for about six laps but, from then on, I couldn't keep up their rhythm. I didn't have any slipstream and that made me lose about three tenths of a second per lap. Riding on the safe side, Capirossi and Vermeulen were able to catch and pass me. I tried to give it back to Vermeulen at the last corner, and I almost did, but he was on a better line and I couldn't manage it. Anyway, my Kawasaki and the Bridgestone tyres worked perfectly today and I am really satisfied about the work we have done here over the weekend. I am sure that if we continue this way, better results will come soon. And it would be great to get them at the next race in Le Mans: my home race."
Bartholemy, Kawasaki Competition Manager: "Overall I'm pretty happy with our performance this weekend. I think we have shown just how much progress we've made with our Ninja ZX-RR, even in the short space of time since we started the season in Qatar. Once again, it's impossible to fault Bridgestone, as the tyres have worked perfectly all weekend. As for our final result, I have to say that I am a little disappointed. I think it was possible to finish the race in sixth place, but Randy was maybe too cautious towards the end, which allowed Capirossi and Vermeulen to pass him in the closing stages, pushing him back to eighth position. This weekend we have seen that our Ninja ZX-RR is now a match for our factory rivals, and we head for Le Mans determined to prove this with another strong performance."