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The biggest change has been a greatly improved ZX-10R. From magazine track tests so far it appears that the basic production ZX-10R will be a far better race bike that the 2005 version and put the new bike at the very least on a par with the main opposition from the other three Japanese manufacturers. A lot of subtle changes to the bike have made the power delivery smoother & more controllable and handling easier & more predictable. World, British and AMA superbike teams have all been busy modifying and testing the new bike, Kawasaki making the bikes available in plenty of time for the the new season. With Kawasaki factory involvement in AMA, what appears near factory support for the PSG-1 team and rumours of full Kawasaki backing for Hawk, there is confirmation of far more support in race parts for Kawasaki Superbike teams than in previous years.

World Superbike Championship

The Kawasaki PSG-1 Team is fielding three riders in Superbike as follows: Chris Walker, Regis Laconi and Fonsi Nieto in Superbike with Denis Sachetti in Superstock 1000. In the first major test for PSG-1 Kawasaki at Sepang, Chris Walker has commented that chassis response and set up is much improved on the previous bike, with all team members highly impressed with the new ZX-10R. Chris bettered his team mates with a best time of 2’07.65, with Laconi at 2’09.10 both on race tyres and Nieto 2’07.464 on qualifying tyres. The team continues its preparations at Phillip Island, Australia, with a three-day test.

The other team in Superbike is Bertocchi Kawasaki with ex-WCM MotoGP rider Italian Franco Battaini. Lightspeed Kawasaki are running Riccardo Chiarello in Superstock 1000 and Davide Giuliano in Superstock 600; Team Agusta PMS with Alex Martinez & Simone Saltarelli in Superstock 1000; Team Erinac with Ondrej Jezek in Superstock 600 and Team Gil Motor Sport the sole Kawasaki entry with Maxime Berger in the World Supersport Championship.

The 13-round season starts at Qatar on 25th February.

British Superbike Championship

Main changes are that Vivaldi has dropped Kawasaki in favour of Suzuki, leaving Hawk as the main contender in the Superbike class with MSS Discovery concentrating on Supersports as last year.
This year Hawk will be running two ’06 spec ZX-10R’s with riders Dean Thomas and Craig Coxhell plus two ’05 spec bikes with younger riders on board, namely Peter Hickman, with a fourth to be confirmed. A former Australian Superbike Champion, Craig Coxhell has raced in BSB before and finished a strong third in the World Superstock championship last year. Glen Richards, after a few years at Hawk has unfortunately left to race for Hydrex Honda and Vivaldi swapping makes, has taken Scott Smart out of the Kawasaki development loop.
MSS Discovery are running two riders in Supersport for 2006, once again they have Pere Riba aboard plus new signing 26 year old Kieran Murphy with support for the team from Kawasaki Motors UK.

News from other Kawasaki teams is still to be confirmed.

Round one is 24th March at Brands Hatch on the Indy Circuit.

UK TV coverage will include recorded same day showing on Sky of the full meeting and the Superbike races live on ITV.

AMA Championships

So far initial testing at Daytona in December has shown the new ZX-10R in touch with the fastest Suzuki’s, being about a second slower on a 1’40ish lap, which shows promise for the forthcoming season.
As well as the Hayden brothers, Ben Attard and Damon Buckmaster are confirmed on Kawasaki in the other AMA road race championships so far.

AMA season starts at Daytona on 8th March.

The overall impression for the coming season is that Kawasaki is putting some serious effort and support into the main championships. Concurrent tests with Kawasaki MotoGP and World Superbike teams points to there being collaboration within Kawasaki across each race series. It all bodes well for a good year for the Green Teams on the racetracks in 2006!

Henry (Shortcircuit)
Photos: Kawasaki Motors
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