Dec 18, 2002
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From a press release issued by Fuchs Kawasaki:<BR><BR>MOTOGP 2003<BR>SEPANG TEST DAY 3<BR>WEDNESDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2002 <BR><BR>QUICKER LAP TIMES – AND MUCH MORE TO COME<BR><BR>Kawasaki Racing Team finished their three day-test in Malaysia on a high note, with further improved lap times of their riders, and with plenty of input for the Japanese engineers in their search for the best chassis and engine components on the new Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP racer. Australian team-mates Garry McCoy and Andrew Pitt mainly focussed on different swing arm settings to improve driveability on the corner exits. Japanese test rider Akira Yanagawa continued his search for the best mapping of the Ninja ZX-RR's new fuel injection system, whereas Alex Hofmann went through another stack of new Dunlop tyres.<BR><BR>After a short Christmas break, the team and all four riders will be back for more, with another three-day session in Sepang on January 15th – 17th, followed by three days of testing 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 (39 laps – best time 2:07.44):<BR>"When I rode the bike yesterday morning, I really felt that today was going to be a big improvement. But then, we didn't improve as much as I was hoping for. We've done a quick time early on, then we changed a lot of settings, like with the steering angle, and the dampening on the front fork. We just kept trying different things, so we could walk away from here with some answers about the direction that we want to go in for the next test, and what we want Kawasaki to concentrate on. We went sort of up and down, we did some quick times, and then some slow times, went quick again, then slow again.<BR><BR>"We then swapped bikes. I rode Andrew's bike, then Akira's bike, which was really interesting. I felt his bike had a bit of an advantage over mine. Each rider had a different pivot point for the rear swing arm. With my bike, I found it a little bit difficult to get really hard on the gas exiting turns, and it wasn't until I rode Akira's bike that it seemed easy. I still didn't go fast on Akira's bike because it is all set-up for him, and I wasn't really comfortable, it didn't seem to turn that well for me. I'd now like to get the pivot he had and set the bike up around me. There are a number of other things to be addressed, but I think the main thing that we have to discuss between the factory and the riders is whether to stick to just a single pivot point or to work on a multiple choice solution that allows certain changes.<BR><BR>"These three days in Malaysia were my first real test on the bike, and it's too early to say where we really stand. We didn't really want to change the gearbox, or run through a heap of tyres. Instead, we concentrated mainly on the chassis, just so that the engineers could go back and get something ready for the next test. When we return in January, we'll start to set up the bike properly for race conditions and rider's preferences on this track, and that's when lap times will start to count!"<BR><BR>Andrew Pitt (61 laps – best time 2:07.70):<BR>"I did a lot of laps, and I'm pretty happy with the direction we went with the bike. We made some more changes overnight, and each change we made picked up what we wanted it to do. When we wanted it to steer better, it steered better, and when we wanted it a bit more stable, it did that. These were only little things, but we're going in the right direction. All the areas I've been complaining about, we're improving bit by bit. We also made a few little improvements with the injection, playing around with the mappings. We still need to do more work on that for sure, as it is still a bit rough, but we are getting there. We also tried tyres, different constructions and stuff, and my only disappointment was that I didn't get to put some of the softer stuff on in the end, because when I went out late in the afternoon, it started to rain. But anyway, I'm happy with the progress we made, I feel a lot more comfortable right now, as the bike is more the way I want it!"<BR><BR>Alex Hofmann (40 laps – best time 2:08.88):<BR>"We started our day with a re-check of the new slipper clutch that we've tested yesterday, and went back to the original setting which turned out to be the best so far. We then were slowed by some small problem on the brake and on the cooling system, but after that I had plenty of time left to test another whole family of Japanese Dunlop tyres, with five or six different compounds. Whenever I would find one that didn't have the same grip level of the others, I would try to improve on my sliding abilities at the corner exits, and this was a lot of fun.<BR><BR>"Later on, I checked on the data recording, and learned that the rear tyre heats up to temperatures between 170 and 200 degrees on a long slide, which is quite impressive! All in all, I had good three days, I got plenty of kilometres under my belt, I got used to sliding on the corner exits, and I have made another step forwards in riding this powerful machine even though it doesn't really reflect in my lap times – we just tested so much stuff, and concentrated to get as much data for Dunlop as possible!"<BR><BR>Akira Yanagawa (47 laps – best time 2:07.85):<BR>"I had a minor crash today. My seat cushion is attached with some Velcro, which came off all of a sudden, and I slipped and ran off the track. I was lucky, because I slowed right down before the bike tipped over. Under normal conditions, I would have saved it and made it back to the road, but my body simply wasn't strong enough after my long recovery from the Motegi crash. Luckily, I didn't get hurt again, so it's okay.<BR><BR>"We tried another off-set and other changes to the chassis set-up, but we still have the same problems, with some chattering and the bike turning too slowly. Compared to yesterday, it was a little bit better though, and my lap time was one second faster. But we are still much slower than the track record, so we have to keep going!"<BR><BR>Harald Eckl – Team Manager:<BR>"This test here was very positive and successful. We did many kilometres and gained a lot of experience with all our four riders. Alex Hofmann completed a huge tyre testing program and is getting faster and faster. Andrew also continues to gain experience and expertise with every lap he is out there, and I am sure that he found another half a second a lap just in his own riding style. Akira also was a big surprise. He suffered for many weeks from a serious hip injury, but bounced back almost if nothing had happened, and did impressive lap times considering what he had gone through. Garry McCoy went through his first real test on our bike in convincing style, improved step by step, and we will make another giant leap ahead once the set-up is right for him. We are also very happy with what we've learned about the new Dunlop tyres even though it didn't show in the lap times straight away. All the tyre testing was about this weekend was to provide the engineers with certain data that they need to puzzle together for their next evolution step!"