Speaking Fluent Spanish: Kawasaki In WSS

July 4, 2011

Kawasaki’s official team in the Supersport World Championship is the unique Provec squad, based in a country normally more closely aligned with very different race classes - Spain.

For three seasons now the Provec team has represented Kawasaki by racing the Ninja ZX-6R at the highest level possible for production-derived 600cc machines, the Supersport World Championship.
The team has been making a good job of this high status role in the past few years, in a remarkable fashion in many ways. But maybe the most unusual fact about the team is that they are based in, and natives of, Spain.
It is much more usual in that country for any ambitious team to move from the national championship to one of the Grand Prix classes.
For Provec, the reasons for moving to WSS in the first place were obvious, as team manager Guim Roda explains, ‘At the beginning of the project we said, “OK, let’s try to make and understand a World Championship series sport.’ In Spain in the 125cc and 250cc, or even MotoGP classes, it was clear to us that as a business plan it had no sense. You are here to win races, but in 250 if you did not have a certain bike, and you could not pay for it, you cannot win. So why would you go to the races to know that you cannot win, you can only make 15th? Then you would just go to be part of the show. For this we did not want to go.”
The fairly restrictive rules in Supersport racing mean that what you do with the machine, rather than what the machine is to start, is more relevant when it comes to meeting each raceday head on. And in the case of Provec, this means that their ultimate destiny was, and largely still is, in their control.
“You know you cannot win all the time, but you must – at the minimum – have the possibility to win. It is difficult to go racing if you cannot win. If you have a sponsor that pays you some money, and you have a rider to pay the bills, but still have not very good bikes, then you can still go racing. But then you just take the money, make some photos and then finish. I do not like this way. It is better to stay in racing because of your ability with some technical points, management things, and so on. Then, if you win, you have a high visibility, good image, and there is a reason for sponsors to come. You are doing something that not many people can do - win. Winning is difficult, that is the way, and if you win races you have proved to people that you have done something difficult. So the only thing for a private team, using personal suppliers to make the bike competitive, was Supersport. That was our main idea. We did not need any ‘special’ people that we had to pay a lot of money to because they are special. You can pay suppliers for engine tuning, fairing, suspension, and you put them on the bike, and you can win. This essence, this point of the racing, is what we really wanted.”
Roda, part of a company, which has interests in other areas besides racing, continued, “In these circumstances, we are responsible for our capacity to be fast. We do not have to depend on anybody else. We have the tools, so if we do not win it is because we are not good enough to do it. If we make good work then we know we can win. I am not an engine builder, I am not a chassis builder, I am in a team and we try to take the best things we can, to make the best package we can.”

That ethos of controlling your own destiny is still very much alive in WSS racing nowadays, but the biggest Spanish team outside the GP paddock knew that to really challenge of the championship, maybe a little more was needed. Kawasaki, a company with a great desire to win at its core, had been impressed enough with the Provec team to award them factory status and an impressive new Ninja ZX-6R to prepare for battle in a perennially competitive series.
For Roda and co, this was the symbiotic partnership they needed to take the next step up. As he said, “It was so nice in the beginning because Kawasaki said to us, “we want to run our bikes and try to make them win.” At the end in a factory team there are more possibilities about budget and the parts we request and then we can give feedback to Kawasaki for new models. In the end it was under our control to make a competitive bike for, and with, Kawasaki.”
Success has been measurable, with 19 of Kawasaki’s total of 40 podiums so far in coming along in the past two and a half seasons, with the Provec guys at the helm. Most have come from newly promoted Kawasaki Racing Team star Joan Lascorz, but current riders Broc Parkes and David Salom have also scored top three places.
Recently, Parkes won his first race for Kawasaki at Misano and last time out – at the home round for the team and new rider Salom – there was a first podium for David, following on from his first ever pole at the opening round in Australia.
Parkes for Lascorz was something of a straight swap of one potential champion for another, but in Salom, the team believes that his mix of being a known Spanish name and most importantly a rider even rival team managers have spoken of with respect and wariness, is just a good a piece of business. An ongoing business, but good business all the same. “The main decision is that when we decided to take Broc, whom we knew a little and his way of working,” explains Roda, “we also needed a good combination in the team. It was very clear the character of both Broc and David was going to be so good to work together. This is important, because if you put two guys in the team who are not good together then the performance of both goes down. We took the choice to put both in a good situation with regard to communication and respect, and because David has showed he has good possibility and potential as a rider. I knew him from the Spanish Championship and he can be a very fast rider. He is making a good job, working, learning, and he just has to believe a little more and I think he has the potential to stay at a high level.”
With their two riders in the top three places at the halfway point of the season, a high level is exactly what the entire Kawasaki WSS project is working at yet again.