2006 MotoGP Championship - Round Eleven - Laguna Seca, USA - July 21/22/23 - Coverage by MCNEWS.COM.AU
Kawasaki Day 1 Report
|Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano was left
both disappointed and frustrated with his 16th place finish in
today's second free practice session at Laguna Seca, after
struggling to find a set-up on his Ninja ZX-RR to suit the
characteristics of the technically demanding 3.61 km circuit.
The 28-year-old Japanese rider complained throughout both sessions that his Ninja ZX-RR was difficult to turn into the corners, particularly at the infamous Laguna Seca Corkscrew, and at the critical final turn that leads onto Laguna's only straight.
This tendency for his Ninja ZX-RR to understeer through the turns, coupled with stability problems under braking, left Nakano lacking the confidence in the front end of his Ninja ZX-RR that the Laguna Seca track demands.
Nakano's crew, together with Kawasaki's technical support staff, will improve the balance of Nakano's Ninja ZX-RR through changes to both chassis geometry and suspension settings overnight, and the Kawasaki rider is confident that this approach will allow him to improve his pace considerably ahead of tomorrow afternoon's all-important qualifying session.
Making his debut at the Laguna Seca circuit today, Randy de Puniet focussed on learning his way around the seven left and four right hand corners that make up the 3.61 km Laguna Seca track aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.
The 25-year-old Frenchman saw an improvement of more than one second in his lap time between today's free practice sessions, eventually finishing just one place behind his more experienced teammate in 17th position.
After declaring Laguna Seca a fun track to race at, de Puniet is confident of further improvement tomorrow, as more track time gives him the opportunity to discover more of the secrets to a fast lap around the sweeping turns and undulations of the Californian track.
Shinya Nakano: 16th - 1'25.598
"Today has been a difficult day, and I am disappointed to have finished so far down the timesheet on a track that we initially thought would suit the characteristics of our Ninja ZX-RR. I understand the quickest line around most of the circuit now, but still I have some problems with the section from the top of the corkscrew to the finish line, and it is this sector I must concentrate on tomorrow. But the biggest problem we had today was getting the bike to turn; it just didn't want to. This meant that I was losing time through every turn, but especially through the slow corners, like the Corkscrew and turn nine. This is what we need to focus on tonight; changing the chassis and suspension settings to improve balance and turn-in. As I said, today was disappointing, but I'm confident that the team will come up with a solution to our set-up problems ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session."
Randy de Puniet: 17th - 1'25.651
"I really like this track! This morning it was a bit difficult, because this is my first time racing here at Laguna Seca and the circuit is very technical, but this afternoon was a lot better. I was over a second faster during today's second free practice session, and a couple of longer runs this afternoon gave me a better understanding of the technical nature of this circuit. I hope tomorrow that we can make a further improvement to both the set-up of the bike and my lap time, as I really want to finish tomorrow a lot further up the timesheet than I have today. This is a funny circuit. It doesn't really compare to anything we have in Europe, but it is definitely good fun to race on and I'm hopeful we can put in a strong performance here."
Naoya Kaneko: Technical Manager
"At the moment we have some problems with getting Shinya's bike to turn, which takes away his confidence in the front end, and confidence is important here at Laguna, where you need to carry speed through some of the faster turns. This is what we will focus on tonight; making changes to the overall balance of the bike by altering both chassis geometry and settings, in a bid to improve turn-in performance for tomorrow, and to increase Shinya's confidence in the front end of the bike."