The Kawasaki Racing Team unveiled its official 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship machinery and riding line up today, 8th February, at their headquarters in Granollers, Barcelona. Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ official team will once again feature three-time champion Jonathan Rea and 2013 season champion Tom Sykes aboard the latest race specification Ninja ZX-10RR.
With an all-new graphics package and stunning colour scheme, the 2018 race machine features prominent logos from team sponsors, including Motocard, Elf and Monster Energy.
With several new technical rules imposed for 2018, including some that have already affected Kawasaki more directly than their competitors, the message for the 2018 KRT campaign is #NinjaSpirit. The spirit of accepting a challenge of striving for on-track excellence, and never giving up.
The launch started early for some members of the media who had enjoyed a comprehensive tour of the recently refurbished KRT HQ and race workshops, including a Q&A session with KRT Project Leader, Yoshimoto Matsuda.
Beginning in the early evening the launch featured speeches and explanations of the #NinjaSpirit approach for 2018. As well as the formal launch of the team a new range of KRT clothing was unveiled to cover the next two seasons which will soon be available for sale. With the launch concluded there was no rest for the KRT squad and KHI, as the official machines and much of their race equipment are to be flown to Australia on Friday 9th February.
Even in the face of new rules which are set to effect the class leading Ninja ZX-10RR more than the majority of machines on the grid, Kawasaki, Rea and Sykes now enter the 2018 season full of Ninja Spirit, determined to succeed no matter the odds or however many more external influences may arrive during the season.
Winter testing in Europe has been completed but immediately after the launch in Barcelona the team will begin final preparations for a two-day official test against their rivals, and then the first round of the season at Phillip Island in Australia 23rd to 25th February.
Jonathan Rea, the 2015, 2016 and current world champion, stated: “It is always exciting to unveil our new colours. It is when you feel like the season is kicking off for real. It is now time to go racing which I am super-excited about. KRT always pull out the stops when it comes to the team launch and they are making a big deal out of the new liveries. That gives you the feeling that you are walking into something new all the time. To be at a high level event like this makes me proud to be a Kawasaki rider.”
Tom Sykes, the 2013 world champion, stated: “Anything is possible this year and we have had a really good testing programme, taking into account the change in the rules. At this moment I feel we are very well prepared. The launch itself at the team’s HQ was absolutely fantastic and everyone involved has done a really good job. It is very fitting, and this amount of effort is a great way to start the season.”
Mr Yoshimoto Matsuda (KRT Project Leader): “For 2018, in order to level up the performance among the manufacturers taking part in WorldSBK, Dorna has set a new limit for the engine revolutions for all four cylinder bikes to 14700rpm, except for Kawasaki, which is limited the lowest among the four cylinder bikes at 14,100rpm. That means that we have 600rpm less than even our closest rivals.
Furthermore, if the bike performs exceptionally in successive races, the limit can be lowered 250rpm further. For comparison, in 2017 we worked at 15200rpm. So, with the new rules we will have to work with 1100rpm less. Obviously, this creates a great handicap for the ZX-10RR.
Having the ZX-10RR at the lowest RPM limit, we consider that Kawasaki is being challenged for being too successful. But our spirit has been always been that of a fighter.
For 2018 we overhaul our working direction. Winter testing has confirmed that we are working in the correct direction and the results have been good. We know from experience that winning and keeping the victory is not easy, for sure we’ll be giving our best effort and energy for this season. We never give up, we have the Ninja Spirit!”
Biel Roda (KRT’s Marketing and PR Director): “2017 has been a very profitable season for us. History has been made with a third consecutive rider title plus a third manufacturer title. We achieved 18 victories last year, our personal record in a single season. Thank you very much to all who make the Ninja Spirit become a reality that allows us to achieve our dreams.”
Martin Lambert (Communications and PR Manager for Kawasaki Motors Europe): “We want to show the wider story of the Kawasaki Racing Team. 2018 will be a challenging year. There have been changes in the technical rules of World Superbike that will demand our very highest efforts in all areas.
In the face of yet another challenge we pick up the gauntlet proudly and in a positive way. KRT take this 2018 season as the best opportunity to show what continually drives them to be a successful racing project. We call this the ‘Ninja Spirit’. It’s a combination of competitiveness, teamwork and passion for racing. A spirit present within Kawasaki, within the staff of KRT and within all Kawasaki fans.”