De Puniet shows his speed on final day in Sepang
January 24, 2007
Randy de Puniet's confidence in Kawasaki's 800cc Ninja ZX-RR received a massive boost during the third and final day of testing at Sepang, when the Kawasaki pilot managed to dip below his personal best time at the 5.543km Malaysian circuit.
The 25-year-old Frenchman and his crew opted to test a qualifying tyre for the first time on the new bike during this morning's session, before switching back to standard rubber for a race distance simulation in the afternoon.
On the qualifying tyre de Puniet managed to shave almost half-a-second off his previous best lap time, which was set aboard the 990cc version of Kawasaki's MotoGP racer at this test just twelve months ago.
De Puniet's final task today was to run a race simulation, to test the endurance of the rear tyre over race distance, and to understand better the reaction of the new Ninja ZX-RR to deteriorating rear grip. Overall, the Kawasaki pilot was satisfied with the results, but identified inconsistency in his lap times towards the very end of the run as an area on which to focus during the next test here in just two weeks time.
Also happy with his progress over the three days of this opening test was de Puniet's Kawasaki teammate, Olivier Jacque. Working together with his new crew, the former World Champion was quick to identify a number of key areas for improvement, all of which will be addressed by engineers in Japan before the Kawasaki Racing Team return for three more days of testing at Sepang, starting on 5th February.
For Kawasaki's Racing Director, Ichiro Yoda, today's result was a case of mission accomplished. The Japanese engineer arrived in Sepang determined to show that Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR was a match for the competition, and de Puniet's fastest lap today did that in no uncertain terms.
Randy de Puniet: 46 Laps - Best Lap 2'01.87
"This has been a good first test for us in many ways. I am impressed with the bike, especially with just how much Kawasaki's engineers have managed to improve it in just six weeks. We've been able to do a lot of laps here without any problems at all. This has allowed us to work our way through an intensive test programme, which is important at this point in the season. Overall I am pleased with the amount of progress we've made. I managed to set my fastest lap ever here at Sepang this morning, and then the first part of the race simulation this afternoon went well. At the end my lap times started to drop off slightly, but this is an area we will look at more closely during our next test. We have nine more days of testing before the first race, during which we must continue to work hard, but the potential is definitely there and I think we've proved that over the past three days."
Olivier Jacque: 41 Laps - Best Lap 2'03.57
"The test started with a nice surprise, in the fact that Kawasaki have worked wonders in six short weeks with the bike. It's much better than it was during our first, short test in November. We've enjoyed three full days of testing in good conditions and with no problems here in Sepang, and that has allowed us to make some good progress with the bike. We've found a fairly good base set-up, but we've also identified some small changes that will improve things further for the next test. Randy showed that the bike is fast today, and I hope that the work I've completed over the three days with my new crew will allow us both to go even faster next time out. Of course, we need to keep working and to keep our motivation, because if we do this I think we might surprise a few people come the first race of the season."
Ichiro Yoda: Kawasaki Racing Director
"Time was short between our first shakedown test in November and the start of pre-season testing here in Sepang, but Kawasaki's engineers have done a good job with the bike and I think that was evident during these three days. Both riders have done a good job here. Olivier has been away from MotoGP for a while, but quickly adapted to both the pace and working with a new crew. Randy has adapted well to the new bike, and this could be seen in the way he improved upon his best lap time here at Sepang. We leave here happy with our progress during this first test, but also with some clear targets for when we return here in two weeks. Randy had some issues with rear grip towards the end of his race simulation this afternoon, and this is one area on which we will focus during the next three days of testing."