Visiting the team's wind tunnel in Japan
At the end of January, while the majority of the other MotoGP teams headed for Phillip Island, Randy de Puniet and Olivier Jacque, together with Kawasaki Racing Director, Ichiro Yoda, travelled to Japan to participate in wind tunnel
tests with Kawasaki engineers in Miyoshi City, near Hiroshima.
On arrival in Japan the riders took the opportunity to first visit the Kawasaki factory in Akashi, where they were introduced to Mr. Shinichi Tamba, President, Consumer Products & Machinery Company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd, and senior managers; Mr. Kinouchi, Mr. Miyatake and Mr. Kawamura.
"This was my first visit to the factory and I was really surprised as it is bigger than I expected," said Randy who added that joining the engineers and all the people working there "was a pleasant experience. All of them were delighted with meeting the riders and so were we, as we were meeting all the people who work on our bikes. We certainly strengthened the links between team and factory. Later, we moved into the museum which was also amazing."
After visiting the factory facilities and the Kawasaki museum, the riders then took the Shinkansen, or bullet train, heading for the wind tunnel facility in Miyoshi City, near Hiroshima, where they were joined by Kawasaki test and development rider, Naoki Matsudo.
While sitting on a bike in a wind tunnel may seem like and easy test, the truth is very different.
The riders are battered by winds of up to 180 km/h for five minutes at a time, in temperatures as low as 10°C.
"It was bitterly cold and we couldn't see a thing. Even though it doesn't seem so much, after three tests I was a complete wreck! I'm not sure I would like to repeat it," confessed Randy but admitted as well that "it was worth it, as these tests will help engineers to make improvements to our bikes; maybe not for the next tests but surely for the beginning of the season."