Jan 22, 2002
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Sources inside Japan reported today that Kawasaki officials have announced plans to race their new 4-stroke MotoGP prototype machine in selected rounds of the 2002 All-Japan Road Race Championships and the FIM MotoGP World Championships. Reports say that Akira Yanagawa will be the primary test rider for the new bike. Yanagawa finished ninth, the highest-finishing four-cylinder rider, in the 2001 Superbike World Championship on a Kawasaki ZX-7RR. <BR><BR>Although Kawasaki has not released any information about, or photos of, the bike, it is believed that the Team Green MotoGP machine will be an Inline Four.<BR><BR>Kawasaki's announcement comes only days after Suzuki officials announced that they will race their 990cc, V4 XRE0 MotoGP weapon in the All-Japan Championship as a non-points-earning prototype. Suzuki's riders for the All-Japan series, Akira Ryo and Yukio Kagayama, recently tested Suzuki's new GP bike alongside World Championship riders Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau at Suzuki's Ryuyo test track in Japan.<BR><BR><BR><BR>Text of a just-received Kawasaki press release follows:<BR><BR>2002 Kawasaki Racing Activity<BR><BR>During the 2001 race season the ZX-7RR and ZX-6R put on thrilling shows at racetracks around the world, with the ZX-6R winning both the World Supersports Championship and the AMA 600cc Supersport championship. Thank you all for your support during the year.<BR><BR>In 2002 we are looking forward to another exciting year of racing - our team structure is as follows:<BR><BR>In line with our plans to contest the FIM MotoGP class in 2003, 2002 will be a year of preparation and testing for us as we devote maximum effort towards developing our new Inline Four GP machine. To this end, in 2002 we plan to enter our GP bike now under development in the All-Japan Road Racing Championship experimental class and in the World Grand Prix MotoGP class. However, it has not yet been decided which specific events the machine will contest. For MotoGP, it will probably be in the later rounds, and development is progressing with that goal in mind. Piloting the new machine will be talented World Superbike racer Akira Yanagawa, who will both test and race the bike.<BR><BR>We look forward to your continued support of our Lime Green racers at racetracks around the world during 2002. <BR><BR>WORLD SUPERBIKE - WORLD SUPERSPORT<BR> Spearheading Kawasaki's efforts in World Superbike will be 2000 All-Japan champion Hitoyasu Izutsu and former 500cc GP rider Chris Walker.<BR> In defense of our World Supersports title, last year's winner Andrew Pitt will be joined by upcoming star James Ellison as they try to keep the number one plate on the screaming ZX-6R.<BR><BR>AMA SUPERBIKE AND SUPERSPORT<BR>Last year's 600cc title-winner Eric Bostrom will concentrate on the Superbike class this season, while new team members Tommy Hayden and Tony Meiring will contest the Supersport class.<BR><BR>WORLD GP AND ALL-JAPAN ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIPS<BR>As mentioned above, Kawasaki's new GP bike now under development will contest selected rounds in both of these championships as the bike is further developed for a full season of racing in 2003. Akira Yanagawa, a skilled development rider and brilliant racer will be the rider.