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Dec 16, 2002

Kawasaki Starts Three-day MotoGP Test In Malaysia

From a press release issued by Kawasaki:<BR><BR>KAWASAKI STAR GARRY MCCOY BACK IN ACTION<BR>Sepang ­ Monday, December 16th, 2002<BR><BR>Team Kawasaki Racing's new star Garry McCoy is back into action. A pin and several screws in his right tibia bone, the last memories from a practice accident in February 2002, were removed in a Vienna hospital in November, as well as another pin in his wrist from a previous injury.<BR><BR>Free from any metal remains in his body and well recovered after several weeks of rest, the Australian "King of Slide" happily joined his teammate Andrew Pitt and Kawasaki test riders Alex Hofmann and Akira Yanagawa for his first real test session aboard the all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR in Sepang, Malaysia.<BR><BR>Yanagawa, who had suffered a broken pelvis when he crashed out of Kawasaki's Grand Prix debut race in Motegi back in October, also celebrated his comeback aboard the MotoGP prototype machine, after long weeks of strict bedtime rest in order to cure his complicated injury.<BR><BR>With all four riders fully fit, Kawasaki successfully completed the first of three days of testing in dry and hot conditions, with another three-day session in Malaysia scheduled for January 15th ­ 17th, followed by a three-day-test in Phillip Island, Australia, on January 21st to 23rd, before joining the other MotoGP teams for the official IRTA tests in Spain in February, 2003.<BR><BR>Garry McCoy (57 laps ­ best time in 2:09.1):<BR>"When the pins, screws and staples taken were put into my leg back in February, the doctor said they could stay there for about six or seven months, and any more was going to be a little long. I obviously couldn't get them removed half way through the season, so I had to wait until the last race in Valencia. After that, I went back to my surgeon in Austria and got all the metal taken out, and recovered from that in the weeks since. I basically went straight back to Australia and had a bit of time off, keeping my leg working and trying to get it right as soon as possible and to get ready for this test here. Now here we are, and things aren't looking too bad. It's really my first test on the bike apart from a few laps that I did straight after the race in Valencia, and there are still a lot of things that we have to work out. I've got to get comfortable with the bike and find a few settings to make it feel comfortable, and I think it's just going to take time. Obviously, the new Kawasaki four-stroke machine is very different to the old two-stroke. It's got a lot more acceleration right through the powerband, but it's not as aggressive, not as snappy as a two-stroke, so it doesn't feel as fast. There are a great deal of changes to be made before I'll get comfortable and before I can start dropping the lap times. The power of the engine seems to be great, there is no need for improvement in that department. But the chassis at the moment seems to be quite challenging to ride. On the exit of the turns, I seem to be having the biggest problems, and we need to go through different settings and hopefully find something we like. Going into the turns is a little bit difficult for me also, because the bike has a slipper clutch that you don't use on a two-stroke. Forcing a two-stroke into a turn is all about brakes, whereas on the four-stroke, you just back off, let the clutch out, and it starts to pull up on its own!"<BR><BR>Andrew Pitt (75 laps ­ best time in 2:08.0):<BR>"The bike has stayed quite similar to the one we used at the race and during our last test session here in Sepang, there are just a few little technical changes here and there. I've just been trying to work on my riding style, to suit the big horsepower bike a bit more, and I feel I'm starting to get closer and closer to that. Today I felt pretty comfortable on the bike, we made a few changes, found a good direction to go, and it feels a lot easier to do a good lap time than last time I was here. But I suppose a lot of that is down to me being used to the bike now. First time I was here, I was using the wrong gear in every corner, whereas now I feel I'm starting to ride the bike properly, and as a result, everything is getting better!"<BR><BR>Alex Hofmann (67 laps - best time in 2:08.6):<BR>"Today, I put more laps in than in all the three days of our last test session here at Sepang.I mainly concentrated on tyre testing, and went through ten different rears with different constructions and compounds. Instead of the new fuel-injected Grand Prix machine, I used Kawasaki's first development prototype with carburetors, and I was surprised how easy it was to ride. It is almost as fast, but much less aggressive than you would think it is, much closer to a Superbike than to a thoroughbred GP racer. The reason that we're using this bike for tyre testing is that there aren't enough new chassis ready yet, and it's definitely powerful enough for our purposes. Dunlop is working with different constructions, different compounds and different dimensions in order to find the general direction in which to go in the future, and it's my job to help find this direction. Once they decided on the right construction, they will start working on the compounds all over again. Today, it was easy to find two highlights out of my choice of ten!"<BR><BR>Akira Yanagawa (46 laps ­ best time in 2:09.6):<BR>"I am very happy to be back on a racing bike, because I had to stay in bed for most of the time in the last two months which was very frustrating. Compared to my previous tests here, the lap time wasn't so good today, but I'm still happy because firstly I didn't crash, and secondly, we got some good data. We tried different mappings and some different parts on the injection system, and the result was really good. We have tried many changes before, and they weren't really effective, whereas today's changes made a real difference. Especially at the initial throttle opening, this injection system used to be on or off, really hard, but now, it seems to be smoother. We have two more days of testing here, and I hope we can confirm what we established!"<BR><BR>Harald Eckl ­ Team manager:<BR>"We have achieved a lot today. Alex completed a good program of tyre testing, Garry and Akira got back into action, and I'm confident that we will see Garry matching Andrew's lap times tomorrow. We will re-build all of our chassis for tomorrow, and we have to wait and see where this gets us. But so far, so good ­ we are not only having all our four riders, but all of our new crew with us for the first time, and even though it will take a while for everything to run smoothly, everybody has done a great job so far!"
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