DE PUNIET CONFIDENT AFTER SHANGHAI QUALIFYING Kawasaki rider, Randy de Puniet, will start tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix from the third row of the grid after qualifying in seventh position at the Shanghai International Circuit. Improving on the...
DE PUNIET CONFIDENT AFTER SHANGHAI QUALIFYING
Kawasaki rider, Randy de Puniet, will start tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix from the third row of the grid after qualifying in seventh position at the Shanghai International Circuit. Improving on the ninth place grid position he achieved at the circuit last year, his best time today was 1'59.985, with an impressive top speed of 320.66 km/h.
The 26-year-old Frenchman held provisional pole for much of the session after putting in his fastest lap some 20 minutes in but, after this early use of a qualifying tyre, the other riders managed to catch up and push him back down the order. The team was hoping for a better result but Randy was unable to improve his time using his other two sets of Bridgestone qualifiers before the hour-long session was over. Adjustments to the suspension set up proved unfruitful and a return to the bike's standard setting tomorrow should see Randy more confident.
Kawasaki have liberated around 10bhp from their 800cc Ninja ZX-RR engine since the season began in Qatar, mainly through refinement of the fuel injection and engine management systems. This was clearly illustrated when Randy stayed close behind Valentino Rossi for a number of laps during this afternoon's hour-long qualifying practice. He even looked to overtake at a number of points but chose to hold back and get a better look at the seven-times-world champion's lines.
The team is optimistic that Randy can do well in tomorrow's race. During the qualifying session, some of the riders now in front of him on the grid were unable to lap the circuit as fast as the Frenchman on race tyres, so a good start will be vital. If he can pass them early on, he and the bike are well set up for a good result.
De Puniet: "It has been a really positive day. Yesterday, we decided the plan would be to focus on refining the set up and doing a good qualifying session and I feel we've done that almost perfectly. During this morning's session we worked on the front and rear suspension in order to get the bike to turn better and to improve the stability. The bike improved a lot with the little adjustments we made. At the beginning of the qualifying session, I was able to follow Rossi for a few laps without any problem. I learnt some things from his riding style and lines, which I am confident, will help me tomorrow. Then I switched to the qualifying tyres and, even though I improved my lap time with the first set I used, I had a problem with the brakes with the second and third sets. Without that problem, I am sure I would have been on the second row but still, I am really excited about tomorrow's race as I am feeling good and the bike is now working perfectly. Getting my best MotoGP result is possible; I just need to get a good start."
Yoda, Kawasaki Racing Director: "It was a pity that Randy missed the second row, or even the first one, but we are really happy about how things went today. Even yesterday, leaving aside Olivier's accident, Randy set fast and consistent lap times with the race tyre. He improved in every session and so has the bike, so it has been almost perfect. We are really satisfied with the improvements that we've made for this race which have proved we are going in the right direction. The engine's performance is very good and we have a good top speed, while with the new rear suspension the agility and stability of the bike has improved a lot. We must continue this way for the next races. Our target for Randy in tomorrow's race is to finish in at least eighth position but he says he feels he can finish sixth. We all hope he's right and, given a good start and some slipstreaming, I also think it is possible."