2004 Kawasaki ZX-RR
With Phil Aynsley
After having look at one of Kawasaki’s most famous race bikes in my last column, the two-stroke 750cc triple-cylinder Kawasaki KR750, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at a more modern Grand Prix machine from Kawasaki, this ZX-RR MotoGP racer as piloted by Alex Hofmann in 2004.
Kawasaki’s entry into the new MotoGP class came towards the end of the 2002 season with riders Andrew Pitt and Akira Yanagawa.
Andrew Pitt took the best result of that season for Kawasaki with a 12th place in the last race of the year at Valencia.
For 2003 Pitt was joined by Garry McCoy and Alex Hofmann, the newcomers finished a disappointing season in 22nd and 23rd places. Pitt’s 2003 was as equally disappointing, taking only four championship points over the entire season.
For 2004 Shinya Nakano joined Hofmann and went on to score the ZX-RR’s first podium, a third at the Japanese GP. He finished the year in 10th position, with Hofmann in 15th.
The following year Olivier Jacque scored a second place finish in the Chinese GP, which together with Nakano’s second in Assen in 2006, and Randy de Puniet’s second at the 2007 Japanese GP were the bike’s best results.
This Kawasaki’s ZX-RR had a claimed output of 240hp, with a dry weight of 145kg and a reported top speed of 320 km/h.
It was also the loudest and nastiest sounding of all the MotoGP machine in that era.
Kawasaki retired from MotoGP at the end of the 2008 season and instead elected to focus on World Superbike.
This pictorial features one of Alex Hofmann’s 2004 bikes that I photographed in Germany.