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The restructured Team have made good progress after their first full test session, Randy de Puniet putting in some impressive times. Bodes well for the start of the season :smile


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."

Link to Kawasaki Racing Team:
Hopefully they will have some photo's up soon.....

Final day times with other comparative times:

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Factory Yamaha Team (M) 2min 0.936 secs
2. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 2min 1.026 secs
3. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 2min 1.274 secs
4. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 2min 1.664 secs
5. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 2min 1.691 secs
6. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 2min 1.878 secs
7. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 2min 1.884 secs
8. Colin Edwards USA Factory Yamaha Team (M) 2min 2.266 secs
9. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 2min 2.407 secs
10. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 2min 2.489 secs
11. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 2min 2.583 secs
12. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoG (B) 2min 2.630 secs
13. Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda (B) 2min 2.927 secs
14. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 2min 3.040 secs
15. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 2min 3.077 secs
16. Makoto Tamada JPN Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 2min 3.308 secs
17. Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 2min 3.330 secs
18. Olivier Jacque FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 2min 3.572 secs
19. Shinichi Ito JPN Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 2min 3.973 secs

Fastest day two time:
John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 1.806secs

Fastest day one time:
John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 2.277secs

Fastest Sepang I test time – 17/11/2006 (800cc):
John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 1.64secs

2006 Malaysian Grand Prix – 10/09/2006 (990cc):
Pole position: Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha 2min 0.605secs (set in free practice, qualifying cancelled due to standing water).

Fastest race laps (by manufacturer):
Ducati: Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 2min 2.127secs
Yamaha: Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha 2min 2.332secs
Suzuki: John Hopkins USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 2min 2.584secs
Honda: Casey Stoner AUS Honda LCR 2min 2.623secs
KR211V Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts 2min 2.753secs
Kawasaki: Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team 2min 3.063secs
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