Rea And Haslam Return To Imola

Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will get their respective campaign’s back underway when the FIM Superbike World Championship circus rolls into the historic Italian city of Imola this coming weekend, for round five of the 13-round season. After a month’s break from competitive racing both KRT runners are keen to get back […]

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Official KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will get their respective campaign’s back underway when the FIM Superbike World Championship circus rolls into the historic Italian city of Imola this coming weekend, for round five of the 13-round season.

After a month’s break from competitive racing both KRT runners are keen to get back into action at the classically-sculpted Autodromo Nazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola, which features no fewer than 22 corners along its 4.936km length.

Rea has an impressive individual record at Imola with seven race wins from 12 podiums all-in, making this parkland track the third most successful circuit on his untouchable WorldSBK CV – only behind Assen (12 wins as part of an 18 career podium total) and Portimao (seven wins as part of a 14 podium total). Jonathan won the double for Kawasaki at Imola last season, when there were only two WorldSBK races per weekend.

For Haslam, the 2018 BSB champion with Kawasaki, Imola is a well-known circuit. He has ridden as a WorldSBK wildcard as recently as last year, as well as being a regular WorldSBK competitor at Imola during much of his earlier career. His personal bests at the Italian venue are two third places, set in the 2012 season.

This season’s new Ninja ZX-10RR has already taken Rea and Haslam to the podium in the opening four rounds of the 2019 season; Jonathan 11 times and Leon twice.

The dramatically undulating and challenging Imola track affords little opportunity for the riders to relax between its many corners and rapidly interlinked technical sections. No fewer than four chicanes reduce speeds on the otherwise high-speed sections and none of the straights are entirely arrow straight, as they have to follow the perimeter of the park’s layout.

There are three WorldSBK races at all events this year; two longer races, which bracket a ten-lap ‘sprint’ on Sunday morning. The short Tissot-Superpole race also determines the grid positions for the top nine riders in the final race of the weekend, to be held on Sunday afternoon.

In the championship standings Rea is a clear second with 183 points and Haslam fifth, with 93 points.

Another long break in the WorldSBK calendar will follow on from the Imola round, with the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto in Spain hosting round six, between 7 and 9 June.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had a great few weeks’ rest at home, and I am re-charged and ready to attack this mid-part of the season. After four rounds we have understood and evaluated where we are and where we need to improve. So we approach Imola trying to make another step in terms of my riding and also the performance of the bike. The circuit is incredible and I love racing at Imola, because it is steeped in history and from a rider’s point of view it is a fun track to ride. It is very unique with a lot of undulations and you really need to feel at one with your bike to push on the limit there. I am very excited for FP1 just to understand our performance, if we can be competitive, which I am sure we can be. I will work with my team throughout Friday to give us a bike to compete. I see Imola as a track where we can be really competitive and last year we had a great season, so I feel like it is the time in my season where we can try to change the momentum of the championship. Imola gives us a good opportunity to do that.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “Imola is going to be a good race because after Assen, it was a disappointment. I felt we had good pace for the podium there but with the front tyre issues we had, we dropped back. To finish where we finished off the podium was not a nice way to go into a long break. We are heading into Imola now and I actually raced there on a Puccetti bike last year with the ELF colours that my dad, Ron, used to run. The pace was OK for a top five although we had some issues in the races. I am quite confident that the bike will work well at Imola and I can probably adapt a little bit faster, having ridden the circuit last year. It is a circuit of mixed memories for me. I lost the championship chance in 2010 to Max Biaggi there but I also had some quite good battles with Carlos Checa. I have some up and down memories but I will have to wait and see where the other competition is at. But from my side I am really looking forward to it.”

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) are currently disputing tenth place in the overall championship standings, with Torres just three points ahead of Razgatlioglu. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) is still recovering from injuries he suffered at Motorland Aragon, meaning that his replacement at Assen, Hector Barbera, will once again stand-in for Leandro this weekend.

2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 11, Wins 0, Podiums 11, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 71 (56 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 145 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 17 (13 for Kawasaki)

Leon Haslam:
2019: Races: 11, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)

6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 127 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 393 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 82 – second overall

#NinjaSpirit

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Kawasaki returns to Suzuka 8Hr in 2019

Kawasaki has announced that its factory team, “Kawasaki Racing Team”, will participate in the 2019 FIM World Endurance Championship “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours. In the previous 5 years, “Kawasaki Team GREEN” (managed by Kawasaki Motors Japan – KMJ) participated in the race and achieved a 2nd place podium in both 2016 and 2017, then a […]

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Kawasaki has announced that its factory team, “Kawasaki Racing Team”, will participate in the 2019 FIM World Endurance Championship “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours.

In the previous 5 years, “Kawasaki Team GREEN” (managed by Kawasaki Motors Japan – KMJ) participated in the race and achieved a 2nd place podium in both 2016 and 2017, then a 3rd place podium in 2018.

A big change for this year is that Kawasaki will challenge to win the race with
its factory team (“Kawasaki Racing Team” – KRT). The team riders will be Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam, and Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I’m very excited to be returning to the Suzuka 8-Hour with Kawasaki. The race itself has a huge place in my heart. After last years’ experience, and being so competitive with Team Green, I am back for more. Last year we had some great speed but also made some mistakes. We will learn from those mistakes and be more prepared than ever. It’s one of the toughest, most exciting, races in the world. Racing in temperatures as hot as 36°C is a true test of man and machine. I love the challenge and can’t wait to spend time with all the Japanese fans.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “The Suzuka 8-Hour is a fantastic event and this will be my fourth year now with Kawasaki. We have had some good races in the past, and a memorable one where I rode for five and a half hours out of the eight. Last year, with Jonathan, we were leading the race until we had a small problem. We have been on the podium every year and I feel that we have been making improvements with our package. Hopefully with some good testing under our belts we can make a strong challenge and finally get on that top step of the podium. It is good riding with Johnny as we have very similar set-up requests and we will have to see what the strategy is this year. I am really looking forward to it.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated: “This is my dream team! I am ready, always, and we will see how it goes. I am a fan of the 8-Hour race but this will be my first time riding. I am so lucky to be in a team with Johnny and Leon; it feels incredible. I have ridden once before in the Japanese Superbike Championship, last year. The Japanese Kawasaki team told me that it was a similar bike to the 8-hour machine, and the main difference should be the endurance style fuel tank. The biggest difference from WorldSBK racing for me will be the Bridgestone tyres. It is like a dream to ride at Suzuka in the 8-Hour because it is an incredible track!

Team details:

Team: Kawasaki Racing Team

Team Manager: Guim Roda

Machine: Ninja ZX-10RR

Rider:

Name: Jonathan Rea
Date of Birth: 2 February, 1987
Birth Place: United Kingdom
Team: KAWASAKI RACING TEAM WORLDSBK
Career Highlights: WSBK four times champion in a row since 2015

Name: Leon Haslam
Date of Birth: 31 May, 1983
Birth Place: United Kingdom
Team: KAWASAKI RACING TEAM WORLDSBK
Career Highlights: 2018 British Superbike Champion
2017 British Superbike 3rd
2016 British Superbike 2nd

Name: Toprak Razgatlioglu
Date of Birth: 16 October, 1996
Birth Place: Turkey
Team: TURKISH PUCCETTI RACING
Career Highlights: 2018 WSBK 9th
2017 Superstock 1000 2nd
2016 Superstock 1000 5th
2015 Superstock 600 Champion

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ALEX RINS BLOG

Team Suzuki Press Office  A New Cowboy in Town: Alex Rins reflects on his historic MotoGP victory aboard the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR GSX-RR at the third round of the championship…

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Team Suzuki Press Office  A New Cowboy in Town: Alex Rins reflects on his historic MotoGP victory aboard the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR GSX-RR at the third round of the championship...

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Cooper And BUILBASE Suzuki Win At Silverstone BSB

Team Suzuki Press Office Richard Cooper – Superstock 1000 – 1-1-3 Luke Stapleford – BSB – 7-5 Bradley Ray – BSB – 16-10 Cooper wins two-part season opener and podiums…

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Team Suzuki Press Office Richard Cooper – Superstock 1000 – 1-1-3 Luke Stapleford – BSB – 7-5 Bradley Ray – BSB – 16-10 Cooper wins two-part season opener and podiums...

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Kawasaki Z400: The Green Hornet

Article by Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers On the dark side of Japan, there’s a group that rule the streets and they go by the name of “The Z Gang”. This notorious group of street fighters live and breathe the Sugomi lifestyle, which translates to something wild, something fierce and ready to pounce on its […]

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Article by Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

On the dark side of Japan, there’s a group that rule the streets and they go by the name of “The Z Gang”. This notorious group of street fighters live and breathe the Sugomi lifestyle, which translates to something wild, something fierce and ready to pounce on its prey. With rumours floating around about a new Z on the block, I decided to track down this new so called Z to find out if it has what it takes to wear the Z badge. Midnight was the hour and down town Fountains Circle was the location, in which I spotted the Z400.

With every step bringing me closer to the growling 399cm³ twin, perplexed thoughts started to line up with small details making it unambiguously clear. Starting from the infamous evil lights, to the sharp shoulders in front of the tank right till the strikingly sharp tail, leaving you this squat down kind of look. From a looks perspective it certainly has the “Sugomi” effect with every line showing off an aggressive persona and alongside it’s design the paint job is very stealthy. Kawasaki call this paint job “Storm”, with a metallic black tank and some candy green looking Z finishes on the side fairings, this really underlines it’s aggressive design features.

After spending a few days and a few hundred kay’s together, the Green Hornet and I have become somewhat familiar with one another. Although the bike is styled very aggressively, don’t let that put you off. As far as ergonomics go the Z400 is “Spot On” and is by far the most enjoyable and comfortable light weight naked bike that I have rode within it’s segment.

Grab the bars and swing your leg over and the first thing you will notice is the low seat height, which is there to accommodate a larger variety of riders as well as to give you more confidence. Another thing you will notice is that you are not mounted on top, but rather in the motorcycle, with the tank being higher and the bars within easy reach. A soft seat combined with a small fly-screen is close to luxury for us naked bike riders and that is what you get on the Z400. Kawasaki do have a taller screen available but honestly by sitting so low in the saddle, I don’t feel the need for one.

Put the key in and turn the ignition on, the green hornet has a Z650 inspired dash with all the information one needs to know. Ok, so it’s not a TFT display but to be honest the Z400 has a dash that just works and with less distractions, I was certainly a happy sailor only having to deal with two buttons. The switch gear is very basic and just like on the Ninja 400, unfortunately not backlit but again once you get familiar with the controls this becomes second nature just like pulling in a clutch.

Time to slide on my Arai and zip up, for the Z400 and I have some dark streets and alleyways to tear up. With Queen’s song “Tear it up” playing in the back of my mind like a back track to a getaway scene in a movie, I felt like a total badass on the Green Hornet. Nothing inspires a rider more at the darkest hour than a good set of lights. The Green Hornet’s evil eyes stare into the darkest of dark and bring forth the light. All this is done with ease as the dark is taunted by a smirk coming from the Z400 and a growl as I shift past 7500 RPM, just where the downdraft intake starts to purr.

The Z400 has the same 399cm³ motor that has proven to be a versatile and fun crackerjack of a motor in the Ninja 400. What many manufacturers do when making a naked version of a bike is change the gear ratios, making the naked option shorter geared for town use but this usually leads to a massive blackhole on the highway or on the open road. Kawasaki have not changed the gearing on the Z400 so you’ve got an easy and smooth bike to ride in town under 7000 rpm with peak power only kicking in at 10 000 rpm with an impressive 44.5hp and a good hit of 38Nm of torque. This all translates to a comfy 7000 rpm at 120km/h in 6th gear on the open road with still 5000rpm at hand before the red line is met.

With low revs being achieved, thanks to Kawasaki’s smart gear ratio, you are blessed with not only a class leading top speed but also a great fuel economy. A 14 litre tank is what you get, and with those 14 litres of fuel I managed to get just under 318 kilometres (22.7km/L) in which there was mostly urban and highway riding involved. I must add that this was achieved due to ZA Bikers weight protocol (My 70kg’s), just like in MotoGP were weight is critical when it comes to the handling of a motorcycle and in my case fuel economy on the smaller bikes.

As the Sun starts to rise the Green Hornet and I are greeted with sunny skies and dry-ish roads. Whilst approaching corners, gear after gear is found smoothly and without any hassle. Two knocks down with my left foot and the slipper clutch is released, with the help of both ABS equipped Nissin callipers, the front Showa forks are compressed and ready to lean in with the Dunlop Sportmax tyres warmed up. From entry to mid and beyond, the Z400 holds it’s line giving you supersports bike confidence and naked bike comfort all at once. Kawasaki say they have softened the suspension by 10% and man my thumbs are up because it hasn’t taken anything away from sporty riding; and for the streets it has actually improved it all round.

So I was asked the question by Simon and Dave, whether I would park the Z400 or the Ninja 400 in my garage. Watching all of Kawasaki Motors “Toughest Choice Ninja Or Z” videos the past year, I never thought it would be so difficult to answer the very question myself. After what felt like years of thinking and meditating on all the strong points of each bike, I nearly went into a mental state and just decided to flip a coin because honestly they are both awesome bikes. Unfortunately the coin landed in a pond so my answer is inconclusive but do yourselves a favour and visit a Kawasaki dealer and take both bikes for a doddle. You won’t be left unsatisfied – that I can guarantee.

Static photo credit: Bjorn Moreira

Action photo credit: Meredith Potgieter

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