THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY (2):
Over @ Kawasaki – the marque hasn’t figured in WSBK since the glory days of 1993 – 2000. Anyone remember - Scott Russell (WSBK Champ in 1993 & 2nd in 94) - “Go Show”, Anthony Gobert, who got the Pole,1 x Win & 3rd in his astonishing WSBK debut in 1994 as a “wild card” & then went-on to get another 5 x Wins & 3 x Podiums - despite missing most of the 1996 season - Simon Crafar (4 x 2nds & 6 x 3rds, a Pole & Fastest lap in 1996 & 97) - & - the smiling Samurai, Akira Yanagawa ( 3 x Wins & 20 x Podiums 1997-2000)? A long time between drinks...
The “new” ZX-10R back in 2010 was a superb 1 x Litre road “Superbike” – & should have been too - developed as the basis for the big ‘ K’s fresh, new tilt @ WSBK with Chris Vermeulen on board. Light, very fast & powerful, with a superb TC system - it has chrome/moly & nitrided camshafts & 2 x mm“offset-cylinders” - to increase “push” on the crank & minimise lateral force (side thrust) & frictional losses -while enabling lighter, shorter pistons (3,5mm shorter skirts) & lower tension piston rings. K claim this alone cuts piston loads by 18% @ 5K & 21% @ 10K rpm - while reducing power/frictional losses by 3% - & allowing more timing & tuning possibilities. It seems to all work, eh? Vermeulen was very unlucky – getting career-killing, badly injured (as has his replacement, the Spaniard, Lascorz) & then serially injuring the same knee again & enough to lose the ride - but Tom Sykes has done really well on it. Good on him!
Tom Sykes got 7 x Top 10’s in 2010 & 11 more + a Win in 2011 - but 2012 has seen the Kawasaki ZX-10R in full-flower. Sykes has 3 x 3rds, 2 x 2nds & 1 x Win so far – with an admirable 4 x Poles & 2 Fastest Laps. He is a narrow 2nd in the Championship on points. Joan Lascorz got 17 x Top 10’s in 2011 & 2 x more in 2012, B4 that awful crash that broke his neck. Get well soon, JL.
In case anyone thinks all this isn’t that BIG a deal from these 2 manufacturers – please recall that Ducati (14 x Titles) & Honda (6 x Titles) have been in WSBK since Day 1 - 25 years ago! Suzuki finally conquered in 2005 (Troy Corser) after years failing & flailing about in the wilderness - same for Yamaha too - trying but failing all the way back to Colin Edwards in 1995-97, B4 taking the spoils on the cross-plane crank R1 with Ben Spies in 2009. Aprilia did fabulously well in 2011 (Max Biaggi too) as “new” WSBK boys - but having had very many years of GP experience with chassis & the 4 x Stroke RS3 “Cube” etc to draw-on. Even then, they stretched the Rule Book more than a tad (gear-driven cams) – as Ducati have done too (capacity advantage) to help achieve their success.
Now, any one of no less than 5 marques is perfectly capable of WSBK Wins – & that’s bloody GREAT!