The Kawasaki MotoGP team rolled out an entirely new bike for testing at Sepang, Malaysia this week, and introduced it to returning rider Alex Hofmann, and a new member of the squad, Shinya Nakano. Shod with Bridgestone tires (the Kawasaki team used Dunlops, last year), the new bike, now ridden two days by Nakano (Hofmann spent the first day on the older bike) was quickly gaining the pace.
During his second day on the bike, and second day within the team, Nakano posted a lap time within one second of five of the Honda MotoGP stars also testing at Sepang (including Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards, Sete Gibernau, Makoto Tamada and Tohru Ukawa). Impressive? Downright astonishing, given Kawasaki’s performance in 2003.
If Nakano leaves the test at Sepang (which is continuing) on the pace with the Honda boys, it will be a clear indication that Kawasaki has made a massive step towards competitiveness in the MotoGP series for 2004. We hope Kawasaki has entered the mix — it just makes MotoGP that much more exciting.