To all you people that doubted Kawasaki !
Kawasaki RULES !
SIXTH PLACE AND SECOND ROW FOR SHINYA
Shinya Nakano will start tomorrow's Africa's Grand Prix at Phakisa Freeway from the second row of the grid, after a scintillating performance during this afternoon's final qualifying session saw the Fuchs Kawasaki rider finish an impressive sixth fastest aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.
A switch to his spare bike during this morning's hour long free practice session gave Nakano a significant improvement in rear traction, and allowed the 26-year-old Japanese rider to quickly improve upon his best time from yesterday. Improvements continued through final qualifying until, with just 14 minutes of the session remaining, Nakano flashed across the finish line to claim provisional pole position, and become the first Kawasaki rider to top the qualifying timesheet since the Japanese factory returned to Grand Prix racing at the end of 2002.
A flurry of fast laps by the championship favourites unfortunately demoted Nakano to sixth place and the second row of the grid by the time the chequered flag was unfurled to mark the end of Kawasaki's most successful qualifying session to date.
"The turning point for me this weekend was switching to my second bike this morning," declared Shinya. "It worked well around this circuit from the off and there was a definite improvement in rear grip over yesterday. This additional rear traction definitely came in useful when it came time to put a qualifier in the bike this afternoon! Of course, I'm happy to be on the second row of the grid, but I have to say that it has definitely been a team effort. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone in the Kawasaki Racing Team, as they have worked so hard during the winter to get us to where we are today. I'm ready to race tomorrow and, hopefully, we can carry on the momentum that put us on the second row of the grid today."
Nakano's Fuchs Kawasaki teammate, Alex Hofmann, bounced back from a high speed crash halfway through today's final qualifying session to finish 13th fastest.
The 23-year-old German rider was lucky to walk away from the crash, which happened when the rear of his Ninja ZX-RR stepped out at turn eight; a second gear, 160km/h corner. Undeterred, Hofmann returned to the pit box, discarded his damaged leathers and was back out on track within ten minutes. It was well worth the effort, as the former European 250cc Champion eventually improved upon his best time from yesterday by almost one second, to head up the fifth row of the grid for tomorrow's 28 lap race.
"Without looking at the data it's difficult to know exactly why I crashed," explained Alex. "The rear just let go without any warning at all and down I went. I had to change my leathers before heading back to the pit box; I was okay, but my original leathers were a bit the worse for wear! I guess I'm real lucky not to have injured myself. Once back in the box I calmed myself down and went out to test a couple of tyres while I regained my confidence. From then on it was just a case of chipping away at the lap time and trying to improve my grid position. I'm still not completely happy with my race set up for tomorrow, but I think this is something we can work on during morning warm up. Today could have gone better, for sure, but I'm pretty happy overall."
Team Manager, Harald Eckl: "Both riders did a good job today. Alex came back strong after a high speed crash and Shinya proved that he's one of the best riders in the World with his sixth place qualifying position. The fact that we're just over half a second off pole position proves that the direction we took with both the bike and tyres over the winter was the right one. Today has provided the whole team with a huge confidence boost after a winter of hard work, and we're now looking forward to both riders scoring points in the race tomorrow."