The Kawasaki World Superbike team continued the development program of the factory’s 2011 ZX-10R superbike racing machine, with a private test at Spain’s Valencia circuit. Current World Superbike team rider Tom Sykes and World Supersport competitor Katsuaki Fujiwara (currently riding for Kawasaki’s WSS support Motocard.com team) handled the riding duties during the two-day test. Adding to the single ZX-10R that was previously tested at Almeria being ridden by Sykes, another superbike for Fujiwara arrived for the test, allowing the team to run through a full schedule of testing.
After setting a baseline with the current ’10 version (which has shown a marked increase in speed after its previous struggles for the majority of the season), the team concentrated on finding a suitable baseline for the ’11 superbike. Conditions were good, although high afternoon temperatures made sure the busy schedule tested everyone involved. On the second day, after some beneficial geometry changes and settings for the Showa suspension were found, lap times were reportedly already in the 1:34 range on race tires, which is easily on pace with the previous WSBK event, where only the top three in each race were in the 1:34s. Race simulations were said to be firmly in the 1:35s, again well within competitive pace compared to the WSBK event back in April, especially for a bike that is barely begun its race development program.
“A very positive test for us overall,” said Sykes in team press release. “It is very early days but I think we have already achieved quite a lot. Knowing where we are at now, and where we can eventually arrive at, there is still big potential there. So to be where we are now, in such good shape, is an extremely nice starting point.”
Team manager Paul Risbridger was likewise pleased with the early results. “With the delivery of our second 2011 spec Ninja ZX-10R at Valencia we were able to plan a very full program for the two days of testing. On the back of a great result in Nürburgring, our baseline runs with the 2010 racebike at Valencia showed immediately the progress we have made with the current Ninja, but by the end of the first day we felt we had already made real progress on the new 2011 bike. The team tested several geometry options and worked on the general chassis balance on what was our 2010 nominated test circuit. By mid-morning on day two we had achieved our target 1:34 second lap. The speed and consistency of the all new Ninja ZX-10R has given the team a real buzz, and while we have a lot of work ahead of us during the winter, we feel we are currently right on schedule in our preparations.”