San Marino GP: Kawasaki Racing Team preview

NEW CHALLENGE FOR THE NINJAS AT MISANO Motorcycle Grand Prix racing returns this weekend to MIsano, on Italy's Adriatic coast. The San Marino round of the 2007 MotoGP calendar is to be held at the circuit after 14 years away and, for every rider...

NEW CHALLENGE FOR THE NINJAS AT MISANO

Motorcycle Grand Prix racing returns this weekend to MIsano, on Italy's Adriatic coast. The San Marino round of the 2007 MotoGP calendar is to be held at the circuit after 14 years away and, for every rider on the grid bar one, it represents a new challenge.

Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet is looking forward to racing at the new track after the last round at Brno, where he put in a solid performance to gain eighth place. After that, the team stayed at the Czech circuit for further testing, where de Puniet assessed recent modifications to the Ninja ZX-RR including changes to the chassis and clutch plus a revised version of the 800cc four stroke engine. With positive feedback from the 26-year-old Frenchman, it looks as if the Japanese manufacturing giant's premier class offensive is very much gaining momentum as the season progresses.

Fellow Ninja pilot, Anthony West, also took the updated version of the ZX-RR through its paces during the rain-hit testing sessions at Brno and, like his team mate de Puniet, has chosen to run the latest spec engine in his bike at Misano this weekend.

West will be hoping to use his exclusive track knowledge to his advantage at the upcoming Italian round. He is the only premier class contender to have raced at the newly-reopened circuit, having won a World Supersport race there earlier this year, just prior to his move to MotoGP in June. For everyone else, the first practice sessions will be a chance to learn their way around.

Misano originally opened in 1972 and last hosted a world championship motorcycle Grand Prix back in 1993, when Luca Cadalora rode his 500cc two stroke Yamaha to victory ahead of Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz. Now, after an extensive programme of improvements and a recent reversal of track direction, the circuit is once again welcoming MotoGP to its doors.

The event represents a whole new challenge to the riders and their machines so, prior to Sunday's 28 lap race, teams will get an extra hour's worth of practice on the 4.180km track. This means it will be a weekend of setting records and establishing the standard for years to come and the Kawasaki Racing Team aim to use their outstanding and ever-evolving machinery, on top of the Bridgestone tyres that have been dominating the season so far, to set the pace.

Randy de Puniet: Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #14

"The testing we did at Brno was very constructive and the changes that have been made to the bike were really positive, although I don't know if they'll be obvious at a shorter track like Misano, I'm certain they'll become more apparent at faster circuits such as Motegi and Sepang. We also tried many tyres during the tests and that was also very useful. It will be an interesting race at Misano, as nobody except Anthony has ridden there, and it could be difficult as obviously we don't have prior knowledge to help with set up. But we're getting some extra practice time on the first day, and I tend to learn tracks quite quickly, so we'll be ready for the race."

Anthony West: Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13

"I'm looking forward to racing at Misano. I won a World Supersport round there earlier this year, so I know the track and its new lay out and, obviously, I've got good memories of the place. At our testing sessions at Brno, I got to spend some time trying out qualifying tyres, which was great as they're new to me and it's been difficult to use them to their full advantage at the races we've done so far. And, as the season progresses, I'm getting to know the ZX-RR more, which should mean we can go to Misano and improve our set up for the race as, all the time, I'm finding out what works on the bike and what doesn't. It'll be good to see what we can achieve at San Marino."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Kevin Schwantz , Randy de Puniet , Mick Doohan , Anthony West