Kawasaki’s Racing Director, Ichiro Yoda has spoken. This man, who joined Kawasaki's MotoGP project in 2005, has more than 20 years of grand prix engineering experience. For two years, Yoda has been the driving force behind the development of Kawasaki's 990cc Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine. And now, in 2007, with Yoda being in full charge of Kawasaki’s MotoGP effort, Randy de Puniet’s and Olivier Jacque’s fortunes are tied to his engineering expertise.
Talking about the new 800cc Ninja ZX-RR, Yoda says, “We knew from the start that we would have to rev the 800cc engine harder and higher if we were to liberate enough power to be competitive.” And he adds that “Quick, and accurate turning is critical to a good lap time, especially with the new 800cc machines.”
How different is the new 800cc machine from last year’s 990cc racer? Says Yoda, “The 800cc machine is an evolution of the 990cc bike, in that we have taken what we learnt during the past four years and incorporated those lessons into the design of the new machine. Yes, there are some parts that remain from the 990cc machine, such as the running gear and the bodywork, but the major components like the engine and the chassis are all new.”
What about power delivery? “The 990cc bikes had so much power that a lot of our development time was spent trying to counter the tendency to lose grip at the rear under acceleration. The bigger bike could feel quite nervous to the rider on the throttle, and when it did lose rear traction it did so suddenly. The characteristics of the 800cc machine are such that it is easier to control on the throttle, and the transition between grip and no grip is both smoother and more predictable. Because the engine is smoother with the 800cc bike, it means the whole system is more stable,” explains Yoda.
Finally, what are your goals for this year? “I think a first win in the MotoGP class for Kawasaki is a realistic goal for us this year. In terms of the championship, I think a position in the top seven at the end of the season is a reasonable expectation for us,” says Yoda.
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