Sunday, June 17, 2007

MotoGP: Steve Parrish to test ride the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR

Parrish will soon be getting his hands on that ZX-RR...

Three decades ago, he was teammate to Barry Sheene and used to race 500cc grand prix Suzukis. Then he moved on to truck racing and was very successful at that. These days, he’s a commentator at BBC Television, which he probably doesn’t find as productive of adrenaline as his earlier jobs. So very soon, Steve Parrish will be pulling on his leathers again – Kawasaki are allowing him to test ride their MotoGP machine, the Ninja ZX-RR, around the Donington Park circuit, just ahead of the British MotoGP next week.

Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet recently finished in fifth place at the Spanish MotoGP at Catalunya, and Parrish will be riding de Puniet’s ZX-RR on Thursday, the 21st of this month. The ride will, in fact, be broadcast on the BBC.

Steve Parrish finished fifth in the 1977 500cc world championship

Parrish finished fifth in the 1977 500cc motorcycle GP racing world championship, but was actually more successful as a truck racer, winning no less than five European titles. When he gets on to the Kawasaki ZX-RR this Thursday, he will be only the sixth person ever to ride the MotoGP Kawasaki.

GP Racing bikes have, of course, evolved far beyond how they used to be in the 1970s, so how does Parrish feel about the MotoGP ride? He says, ‘I am very, very excited about riding the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR and particularly at Donington Park, my home Grand Prix, and a circuit where I have ridden many times. It is going to be the second 800cc MotoGP bike that I've tried. As I already have some idea from riding the Suzuki, it will be interesting to see if there are any differences. I feel like one of the luckiest men in the paddock, as I also rode all the 990cc MotoGP bikes last year!’

Kawasaki have struggled in MotoGP so far, but next year, if Hayden, Capirossi or Edwards joins the team, things could improve...

How different are today’s MotoGP machines from the 500cc racers of Parrish’s time? ‘It's difficult to see on screen just how unbelievably fast they are, and how the riders have to be athletes to ride them. I will do only four laps and even this will be pretty exhausting. But this is not to prove myself, but rather to be able to explain better how tough MotoGP racing is,’ he says. Yeah, you lucky bugger…

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