MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2006
KAWASAKI RACING TEAM PRESS OFFICE
10 SEPTEMBER 2006 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DE PUNIET SHOWS DETERMINATION AT SEPANG
Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet recovered brilliantly to bring his Ninja ZX-RR home in 13th place in today's 21-lap Malaysian Grand Prix, after an off-track excursion on the opening lap saw the Frenchman rejoin the race dead last.
Both Kawasaki riders got away cleanly at the start, with de Puniet reaching the first turn in tenth place, and Nakano one place further back in eleventh. Keen to close the gap on the leading group of riders, Nakano tried a pass up the inside of his teammate going into turn nine, but was caught out when riders in front braked earlier than expected, leaving him with nowhere to go.
Nakano drifted wide, where he collided with his teammate, forcing them both into the gravel trap. The collision caused Nakano to crash out of the race, but de Puniet was able to keep his Ninja ZX-RR upright as he ran deep through the gravel, before rejoining the race in a distant last place.
Undeterred, the Frenchman got his head down and was quickly back on the pace, as he worked to close the gap on the rest of the pack. Lapping consistently throughout the race, de Puniet managed to fight his way up through the field, to eventually cross the line in a creditable 13th place.
Although disappointed not to have finished higher up the order in today's race, de Puniet was happy with the consistency of his lap times, which he felt would have resulted in a top ten finish if he hadn't been forced off the track so early on in the proceedings.
Both Kawasaki riders now head for Phillip Island keen to put today's disappointment well and truly behind them, with a strong showing in next weekend's Australian Grand Prix.
|Shinya Nakano: DNF
"Starting from 12th on the grid I knew I would have to push hard to make up places on the first lap, before the leaders managed to pull away. I set Randy up for a pass on the inside going into turn nine, but then the riders in front of me braked earlier than I was expecting, and I had nowhere to go but to the outside. Unfortunately, that's exactly where Randy was and I collided with him and put us both in the gravel trap. I'm sorry for Randy and I'm glad he managed to stay upright and continue, but I'm also sorry for the team that I crashed out so early, because they've worked so hard all weekend. All I can do is put this behind me, and start focussing on next weekend's race in Australia."
|Harald Eckl: Team Principal
"Normally Shinya would expect to start this race from the first or second row, but the cancellation of qualifying, and the fact that he was forced to start from 12th place, meant that he was under pressure to make up places right from the start today. Unfortunately, he pushed just a bit too hard on the opening lap and managed to push his teammate off the track, before crashing out of the race. Obviously it's disappointing, but these things happen in racing. Randy was quick to bounce back and rode a great race to finish 13th. Without the problem at the start I'm confident he'd have finished well inside the top ten. He's been unlucky on a number of occasions this season, but when his luck holds out I think he will surprise a few people."