SHANGHAI SUPRISE?

This weekend”s Grand Prix of China in Shanghai marks the start of a frantically busy period for the Kawasaki Racing Team, as they prepare for a run of eight races in just eleven weeks.

The 5.45 km Shanghai circuit is the most modern motorsport facility in the world and, at some 1200 metres in length, features the longest straight on the MotoGP calendar. The riders hit speeds in excess of 320 km/h on the straight, before getting hard on the brakes for the 60 km/h, first gear hairpin at Turn 13.

This is a critical point in the lap, where late braking can easily secure an improvement in position, but can just as easily lead to an off-track excursion into the run-off area at the end of the straight. It”s a unique challenge that is unrivalled at any other circuit.

Shanghai holds mixed memories for the Kawasaki Racing Team. Shinya Nakano was left frustrated after being forced to retire from last year”s inaugural Chinese Grand Prix just two laps into the race, due to an electrical problem on his Ninja ZX-RR.

But while Nakano”s retirement was disappointing, Olivier Jacque certainly gave the Kawasaki Racing Team something to remember. The 31-year-old Frenchman brought his Ninja ZX-RR home in second place in the rain lashed race, to give Kawasaki their best ever finish in the premier class of Grand Prix racing.

 

Jacque will not race for Kawasaki this weekend, but both Nakano and Randy de Puniet arrive in Shanghai hopeful of emulating the Frenchman”s performance in Sunday”s 22-lap Grand Prix of China.

 

Nakano has his sights set firmly on a top six finish this weekend, and is confident that the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR will give him a significant advantage through the high-speed turns where fast changes of direction are necessary.

De Puniet has already proved his speed in the wet this season, and is confident of a strong result should rain again affect the race, but the Frenchman is determined to improve upon his position in the last race in Istanbul regardless of the prevailing conditions on Sunday.

Shinya Nakano: #56
”This is something of a special circuit because of the long straight and the long, fast right-hand turn that leads onto it. The strange thing about the straight is that it feels really slow when you ride it, because it”s so long and there are very few reference points. It”s also hard to identify a braking marker at the end of the straight for the tight, first gear hairpin. This makes things difficult, because the entry to this corner is one of the best overtaking points on the track, but if you brake even fractionally too late then you can”t turn in and you”re forced to run on. It certainly makes things interesting. I enjoyed the circuit in the dry last year, but I still need to get a few more laps under my belt to find the best racing line. Last year I retired from this race with an electrical problem, but I think the high-speed corners with fast changes of direction will suit the Kawasaki, so this year I am definitely aiming for a top six finish.”

Randy de Puniet: #17
”Shanghai is not one of my favourite circuits, as I think it is more suited to car racing than motorcycle racing. Having said that, there are a few interesting sections on the track, like the long first corner. Last year I raced here on the 250cc machine, and the circuit will look very different from the seat of a MotoGP bike I”m sure. But it normally doesn”t take me long to learn a circuit, so I hope we can get up to speed quite quickly during practice. It will be interesting to see what the weather is like on Sunday, because I know we can secure a good result if it is a wet race. If it stays dry then I will be pushing as hard as I can to improve upon my result in the last race in Istanbul. I am looking forward to the weekend ahead.”

www.kawasaki-eckl.com

 

Speak Your Mind

*