2011 World Review: Highpoints for Kawasaki Riders in all classes
After an expectedly tough but often rewarding season for Kawasaki in the WSBK paddock, races were won, points piled up and for the Ninja ZX-10R in particular, potential was turned into performance.
The top level of production-derived racing takes place inside the WSBK sphere, from the heavily modified FIM Superbike World Championship class (with its seven competing manufacturers) to the near-stock Superstock classes - and not forgetting the new initiative of the European Junior Cup.
This class pitched young would-be international riders against each other on identical Kawasaki Ninja 250R machines and was voted a great success in year one.
In Superbike the much-lauded Ninja ZX-10R proved its abilities with a Superpole win at Misano first of all and then a debut race victory, at the Nürburgring in September. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike) was the man who took the big new Ninja to these levels just as soon as the opportunity arose.
His team-mate Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team) was a top five man three times in his rookie season, despite starting the year with the lingering effects of injury picked up in 2010, while riding in WorldSupersport. Joan proved his worth as a Superbike rider in year one by finishing only four points from a top ten finish in the final rankings. Sadly for third official KRT Rider Chris Vermeulen pre-existing injuries held him back from showing his true abilities all year, a problem made worse when he picked up an injured elbow during the 2011 season itself. Lascorz and Sykes will return in official Kawasaki colours next year.
In the ever-competitive FIM Supersport World Championship class both Broc Parkes and David Salom (Provec Motocard.com Kawasaki) were genuine championship winning prospects on the Ninja ZX-6R, but eventually Salom had to settle for second overall; Parkes fourth. Parkes won the Misano race and scored five podiums in total.
Such was the improvement in Salom's performance once he joined Kawasaki for 2011 that he scored the first podium of his career at Motorland Aragon, following it up with two more
before the end of the season. He was also the only top rider to score points in every round.
The class Kawasaki came closest to winning was the European 600 Superstock division, thanks to Revolution Racedays Kawasaki rider Joshua Day and his Ninja ZX-6R. After finding a geometry and race-long setup that worked for his riding style Day proved that his Kawasaki was a strong base to fight for the championship from. He won two races, one at Silverstone and one at Imola, and scored six podium finishes in total, results that pushed eventual champion Jed Metcher all the way to the final round.
Kawasaki's awesome 2011 Ninja ZX-10R scored a Superstock 1000 FIM Cup podium of third at the final round in Portimao, the only Japanese machine to do so all year. Lorenzini by Leoni rider Sheridan Morais was the man to take his place on the podium steps and he will take a step up to WSS with Kawasaki DeltaFin, operated by Lorenzini, next year, alongside new signing Kenan Sofuoglu.
The Ninja-fest in 2011 continued with an all-new and highly regarded initiative, the European Junior Cup. Only open to young riders, all mounted on identical Kawasaki Ninja 250R machines, this 'pay-and-play' class saw machinery and equipment supplied to the competitors at each of the six rounds, meaning they could simply concentrate on practice and raceday, and also have the advantage of a fixed cost over the year. Aussie rider Matt Davies won the title, but many others showed they too could run up front.
In all, 2011 has been a successful year on many fronts for Kawasaki's many teams and riders. The 2012 season looks set to offer even better chances of success for those who opt for Kawasaki power, in every class of production-derived racing that goes on inside the WSBK paddock.