MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
KAWASAKI RACING TEAM PRESS OFFICE
26 MARCH 2006 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A SOLID START TO THE SEASON FOR KAWASAKI'S NAKANO
Shinya Nakano finished today's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in a solid seventh place, but the Kawasaki rider declared himself disappointed that he hadn't been able to better capitalise on his front row starting position.
Nakano was quick away from the line, but was forced to back off as Toni Elias missed his braking marker for the first turn and collided with Valentino Rossi right in front of the Kawasaki ace. Nakano tried to fight back immediately, but was thwarted by the difficult track conditions.
While track and weather conditions were perfect for qualifying yesterday, the situation was different today for the race. Strong, gusting winds slowed Nakano through some of the faster turns, while problems when hard on the brakes forced the 28-year-old Japanese rider to follow first Marco Melandri and then Casey Stoner, unable to overtake on the brakes into the turns.
After closing onto the back wheel of Stoner's Honda out of the final turn, Nakano lost out on the drag race to the line by the narrowest of margins, as he was forced to settle for seventh place.
For Nakano's Kawasaki teammate, Randy de Puniet, his MotoGP race debut was a short one. The 25-year-old Frenchman was forced to pull out after just eight laps as a result of an injury he sustained earlier in the day.
De Puniet was highsided from his Ninja ZX-RR during morning warm-up, leaving him with a severely bruised and swollen right hand. Despite pain killing injections prior to the start of the race, de Puniet was in considerable pain from the start.
The injury to his hand also stopped the Kawasaki rider from applying full pressure to the front brake and, after running straight off the track at more than 240 km/h as a result, de Puniet made the decision that to continue would be dangerous.
De Puniet will return to France for treatment on the injury tomorrow, and is confident of being back to full fitness for the Qatar Grand Prix in two weeks time.
|Shinya Nakano: 7th
"After such a good qualifying session I'm disappointed that I didn't finish higher today. I got a reasonable start, but then Toni Elias collided with Valentino Rossi right in front of me, forcing me to back off. I tried to come back straight away, but conditions on track were very different compared to yesterday. There seemed to be less grip available and that caused me a few problems, as did the strong wind through some of the turns. I didn't feel so comfortable when hard on the brakes today either, which meant I had to brake earlier than normal for some of the faster corners. So, while I could quite easily follow Marco Melandri and Casey Stoner, it wasn't possible to pass them on the brakes. Passing on the straights wasn't an option either, as we are still a little bit down on outright top speed compared to some of the others. As I said, I'm disappointed with the result, but glad to have at least scored world championship points in the first race of the season."
|Harald Eckl: Team Principal
"Shinya did a good job, in what was a tough race for him. Conditions have definitely changed from yesterday, which meant he started the race with a less than perfect set-up, but he overcame the problems to score a solid finish in the first race of the season. You could see he was unable to overtake on the brakes, but it was also obvious that we need to find some more power from the engine, so that he at least has the option to overtake out of the slipstream on the straights. I'm sure Randy was hoping for a better MotoGP debut, but the two crashes he had in qualifying yesterday put him on the back foot, and then he crashed and injured himself again this morning. I have every confidence in Randy as a rider; he has shown he has the speed, but now he needs to match this with consistency. He's a strong character, so I'm sure he'll bounce back ready for the next race in Qatar."