Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Can Kawasaki rise from its own ashes in MotoGP?
For the first time in almost a decade, it seems that Kawasaki may actually be setting its sights on making an impact in MotoGP, accordng to a recent article in Cycle News.
With a completely new-from-the-ground-up bike (powerplant included), and previously non-existent praise and blessings from its crew and riders, Team Green has been causing quite a buzz over the last few months. Since debuting its 990-cc GP weapon at Valencia at the close of the 2005 season, Kawasaki has logged several reportedly successful and impressive test sessions.
Kawasaki's senior GP engineer, Ichiro Yoda (who was the '05 GP bike's biggest critic), has confirmed that many of the problems associated with the old bike have been addressed (namely issues such as moving the bike's center of gravity farther forward and lower to the ground, shortening the chassis, smoothing-out the bike's violent power delivery, and making it more flickable).
Factory racer Oliver Jacque was reportedly blown away with the bike after first riding it in October, which is significant because it's probably the most boisterous commentary from a Kawasaki GP rider since Gary McCoy suggested Kawasaki throw their 2000 bike onto a trash heap and start again from scratch.
At any rate, it's nice to see that Kawasaki is apparently serious about winning some races in 2006, rather than just using MotoGP as a testbed for developing streetbike technology. It's still too early for the average race fan to tell exactly what's different, but there's no question that something big has changed at Kawasaki.