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RideFast Magazine April 2020 issue

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PADDOCK NEWS Brought to you by Kawasaki and the ‘strange’ MotoGP wild-card request DEALER LOCATOR: SMALL ADS EVERYTHING YOU NEED AND MORE! DIRT & ROADBIKES Jonathan Rea was surprised by the ‘strange’ talk of Kawasaki interest in a MotoGP wildcard with its ZX-10R superbike. Rules state ‘Motorcycles participating in the MotoGP class must be prototypes’. Last month, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed the surprising news that “Kawasaki asked me about the possibility of doing [MotoGP] wild-cards with their Superbike.” It had apparently been made via the Provec team, which manages the reigning titlewinning factory Kawasaki WorldSBK squad from its base at Granollers, in Catalunya. Kawasaki quit MotoGP under something of a cloud following the 2008 financial crisis, reluctantly running an unbranded (‘Hayate’) single bike for Marco Melandri the following year before putting all its efforts into WorldSBK, where the ZX-10R has won the title for six of the last seven seasons with Rea (5) and Tom Sykes (1). Ezpeleta later ‘clarified’ that Kawasaki had not made an “official” wild-card request, suggesting the approach was more about exploring the possibilities. Whatever the motive, a Kawasaki-backed wild-card would be surprising on several levels. Firstly, because Kawasaki is not known to be interested in a return to MotoGP and secondly because, according to Ezpeleta, the intention had been to do it with a ZX- 10R Superbike. That naturally suggested reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea would be on-board. Maybe the Ulsterman was eager to prove a point after his five SBK titles had apparently failed to raise a concrete factory-MotoGP offer? Instead, Rea was as surprised as anyone: “I didn’t really understand that [wild-card request]. It’s strange,” the 33-year-old is quoted as saying by “I don’t want a wild-card in MotoGP with my Kawasaki! It could be funny, but it’s a joke. “I would compete against prototype bikes with prototype tyres on a street motorcycle that was developed for Pirelli tyres. It would be like driving a touring car against a Formula 1 car. “We are a championship based on production bikes. Superbike and MotoGP are different worlds. It’s like comparing apples to pears.” As well as the huge performance disadvantages highlighted by Rea, especially on a bike designed for Pirelli rather than Michelin tyres, a WorldSBK machine would not even be legal for use in MotoGP. Ezpeleta said it couldn’t happen simply because “wild-cards are only possible for existing [MotoGP] manufacturers”. However, the MotoGP rules do refer to wild-card entries “using machines from a manufacturer not currently entered in the MotoGP class” adding these “are not subject to the regulations covering ECU hardware and software, dataloggers, sensors and free devices.” But the biggest obstacle to swapping Pirelli tyres for Michelins and entering a WorldSBK machine in MotoGP comes from the very opening line of the technical regulations: “Motorcycles participating in the MotoGP class must be prototypes.” The exact definition of a prototype might be up for some debate, but it is hard to believe that in the context of the MotoGP rules a tuned Superbike could pass as a prototype. Exactly what parts need to be changed to convert a production bike to a prototype was a debate that raged during the ‘CRT’ era. While the current MotoGP engine rules avoid the word ‘prototype’, stating only: “Up to 1000cc. 4-stroke only, maximum 4 cylinders, maximum cylinder bore 81 mm”, most other parts cannot come from a ‘non-prototype’: “The chassis must be a prototype… The main frame, swingarm, fuel tank, seat and fairing/ bodywork from a non-prototype (ie. series production road-homologated) motorcycle may not be used.” Which makes the Kawasaki/Provec wild-card talk all the more ‘strange’. If the question did indeed come from the team rather than Kawasaki, is the Spanish squad considering building a ZX-10R-powered prototype of its own? Might that eventually become the basis for an official Kawasaki MotoGP return? But Ezpeleta was clear that no further MotoGP grid places will be added for manufacturers not currently in the premierclass and so Kawasaki can only return if they reach an agreement to take over an existing independent team. MotoGP boasts factory teams from Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM and Aprilia. Ducati also supports two satellite squads (Pramac and Avintia) with one independent entry backed by Honda (LCR), Yamaha (Sepang) and KTM (Tech3). Aprilia is currently partnered with Gresini - the template outlined by Ezpeleta for a future manufacturer to enter the premier-class - but is expected to be granted its own places from 2022, meaning six constructors and six satellite teams. Source: • NEW & USED BIKE SALES • SPARES & SERVICE • ACCESSORIES Tel: 011 823 5830/1 Address: Unit 14 The Terminal Cnr Dr Vosloo and Trichardt Roads, Dr Vosloo Rd, Boksburg Email: YOUR DIRT & SUPERBIKE SOLUTION IN POLOKWANE! 015 297 0095 103b Scoemann Street, Polokwane BIKE SALES | SPARES SERVICE | ACCESSORIES TEL: 011 362 2182 Unit 9 The Terminal Centre, c/o Trichardts & Dr Vosloo Street, Bartlett, Boksburg 18 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2020