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Lets hope they can convert it to a good finish :clap

23 Jun 2006
FRONT ROW FOR KAWASAKI'S NAKANO AT ASSEN
http://www.kawasaki-eckl.com/press/index.asp?saction=Article&sSection=press&id=437

Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano will start tomorrow's 26-lap Dutch TT from the front row of the grid, after qualifying his Ninja ZX-RR in second place during this afternoon's hour-long timed session at Assen.

The 28-year-old Japanese rider stole pole position early on in the session, but was pushed back to second place by a hard charging Colin Edwards after 20 minutes at the top of the timesheet.

Nakano responded with ten minutes left on the clock, retaking pole position from the American and holding on almost to the chequered flag. With just 14 seconds remaining of the session, Nakano was knocked from the top spot by John Hopkins, who bettered the Kawasaki rider's lap time by just 0.013s to steal pole position for tomorrow's race.

Although a little disappointed to have missed out on his, and Kawasaki's, first pole position in the premier class by such a narrow margin, Nakano is happy to be starting from the front row of the grid on a revamped Assen circuit that offers few opportunities for overtaking.

For Randy de Puniet, today's hour-long qualifying session was a frustrating one. The 25-year-old Frenchman was disappointed to finish 11th fastest overall, and knows that starting from the fourth row of the grid will make for a hard race tomorrow.

Although fast around the old parts of the circuit, the Kawasaki pilot lost valuable time each lap as he struggled to get to grips with the new section of track that has replaced the old North Loop.

De Puniet will again concentrate on this section during tomorrow's 20-minute warm up, when he is hoping to unlock the secret to a fast time through the difficult Ossebroeken right-hander.



Shinya Nakano: 2nd - 1'36.424
'Everything came together for us today. The bike and tyres were working well, especially the qualifiers from Bridgestone, so I knew that pole position was a possibility. In the end I lost out by the smallest amount, but the important thing is that I will start the race from the front row. As soon as practice started on Thursday it was obvious that there aren't many places to overtake on this new circuit, so a front row start is important if you are to avoid a difficult fight through the field. So, we achieved today what we set out to do, and now I need to make sure I get away cleanly from the line tomorrow, so I can take maximum advantage of starting with a clear track in front of me. On race tyres today I was able to lap consistently to stay in the top five on the timesheet, so our original aim for the weekend of securing our best result of the season so far is looking to be a very realistic possibility.'

Randy de Puniet: 11th - 1'37.556
'This afternoon was disappointing; I was actually quicker during this morning's free practice session. The problem is the first section of the track, I just can't seem to find the right line, especially through the long, right-hand Ossebroeken turn. Even when I was behind Colin Edwards through this section, I just didn't seem to be able to follow the same lines as he was taking, and I still lost time. It's frustrating, because my times through the remaining sectors are good, but the new section loses me too much time on every lap. The only thing I can do is to try some variations to my line through Ossebroeken tomorrow during warm up, and I hope we can find some improvement before the race. Starting from the fourth row of the grid doesn't make my job any easier in tomorrow's race but, as always, I'll be pushing as hard as I can to get the best result possible.'

Harald Eckl: Team Principal
'With the changes made to the first part of the track, it seems that Assen probably suits the characteristics of our Ninja ZX-RR better than any other track on the calendar. Shinya was consistent on race tyres during practice and qualifying today, before switching to Bridgestone's qualifiers and putting in one of his best qualifying performances to date. He has given himself the best possible chance by qualifying on the front row, and I think he is capable of securing his, and Kawasaki's, best result of the season so far tomorrow. I know Randy is disappointed not to have finished higher up the grid after all his hard work today, but he seems to be struggling with the first part of the circuit and it looks like he is fighting too much with the bike. I hope we can improve his set up for tomorrow, because I know he will want to push hard in the race.'

QUALIFYING PRACTICE - FINAL TIMES
1. John Hopkins (USA) Team Suzuki MotoGP 1'36.411; 2. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team +0.013; 3. Colin Edwards (USA) Camel Yamaha Team +0.344; 4. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team +0.347; 5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team +0.582; 6. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Team Suzuki MotoGP +0.666; 7. Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Honda +0.921; 8. Carlos Checa (SPA) Tech 3 Yamaha +0.967; 9. Alex Hofmann (GER) DAntin Pramac Ducati +0.988; 10. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team Roberts + 1.117; 11. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.145
 
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