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Kawasaki announce 'new beginning'.

Kawasaki has announced a radical restructuring of its MotoGP project for 2007 - and revealed that its split from team principal Harald Eckl was due to his 'serious involvement with a competitor's MotoGP activities'.

Eckl's European-based team has run Kawasaki's MotoGP race effort since its 2002 debut, and had led the company's factory WSBK challenge before that, but - as previously reported - Kawasaki has terminated the German's contract a year early and will now run its race team 'in house' next season, under the control of racing director Ichiro Yoda.

"The new team infrastructure is a result of the Japanese manufacturer's recent necessary split from Harald Eckl and the company KMGP, after Kawasaki was confronted with Eckl's serious involvement with a competitor's MotoGP activities, which forced Kawasaki to terminate the relationship immediately," read a Kawasaki statement.

The identity of the competitor in question wasn't revealed, but among the likely candidates will be the new Ilmor SRT team, since Eckl previously worked with Suter Racing Technology (SRT) when Eskil Suter's firm designed the ZX-RR's chassis. Eckl has yet to respond to the allegations or announce his future plans.

"Last year we fielded the most competitive Ninja ZX-RR since Kawasaki returned to grand prix racing at the end of the 2002 season, as Shinya Nakano's second place at Assen proved. But, the overall results in 2006 clearly were not what we were expecting, due, in part, to a lack of dedicated attention from our former team manager," was the biting verdict of Kawasaki's president, Consumer Products & Machinery Company, Shinichi Tamba.

However, having retained many of the existing team members, Tamba is confident that the transition, which also coincides with the change from 990cc to 800cc engines, will take place as smoothly as possible.

"I'm pleased to say that the team in the pit box will remain virtually unchanged from this season. This has been a great help, and it has undoubtedly allowed us to progress much faster with building the new team infrastructure. We furthermore highly appreciate the full support from Dorna regarding our new MotoGP structure," he said.

"This is a new beginning for Kawasaki. The performance of the new 800cc Ninja ZX-RR during the initial tests has been promising, but we know there is still a lot of development work to do if we are to be competitive from the first race next season.

"So, while we know we are facing a tough job to have everything ready for the first race of the 2007 season, we are confident that the strong commitment from the new team management and the rest of the team, will lead to an improvement in results for Kawasaki during the season ahead," concluded Tamba.

With star rider Shinya Nakano moving to Honda, test rider Olivier Jacque has been promoted to ride alongside Randy de Puniet next season.

Members of the new look Kawasaki Racing Team are now busy putting together the equipment, tools and transport necessary for the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.
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