Kawasaki had to make some guarantees to record-breaking World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea before Rea extended his contract until the end of 2024. The new motorcycle will be delivered on February 7.
Before the extension of Jonathan Rea’s contract with Kawasaki Heavy Industries was confirmed on July 19, 2022 until the end of the 2024 season, there was a need for discussion between the parties. It quickly became apparent that the 36-year-old on February 2 wanted to move on and was still hungry for success. The most important question for Rea was how Kawasaki’s technical development would look in the coming years.
Kawasaki then announced an upgrade to the ZX-10RR. In mid-August 2022, SPEEDWEEK.com reported that there would be a new hybrid model for 2023, with an all-new bike coming only in 2024.
Recently, Kawasaki introduced a new homologation model in 2021, an engine that can rotate at 15,100 rpm. But because the world motorcycle association FIM has not classified this ZX-10RR as new, all Kawasaki engines in the World Superbike Championship are currently only allowed to rev at a maximum of 14,600 rpm.
This puts Kawasaki behind the competition: the Ducati Panigale V4R currently has a specified top speed of 16,100 rpm, the Honda CBR1000RR-R 15,600 rpm, the BMW M1000RR 15,500 rpm and the Yamaha R1 14,950 rpm.
When it became clear at the beginning of the 2021 season that Kawasaki would not have a high-end upgrade, the Japanese manufacturer did a lot of work on the chassis, lightness, aerodynamics, mechanical grip and electronics to be able to keep up with the big competition. . This method continues to this day.
SPEEDWEEK.com has now discovered: On February 7th, Kawasaki will present this year’s race machine for the World Superbike Championship, one day after the factory team followed suit with a video presentation.
“Kawasaki engineers work closely with the Kawasaki Racing Team, evaluating every day how current and future performance can be improved,” said Steve Guttridge, general manager of Kawasaki racing in Europe. “It’s about how we can meet the needs of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes.”
During the two-day Jerez test on 25/26 On 1 January, the drivers and their crew chiefs did not speak in an unusual way about the technical innovations of the 2023.
Team manager Guim Roda was more forthcoming. “We had some parts to test, some were experimental,” revealed Catalan. “We are not allowed to use everything we try in the championship because some parts are not allowed. We test them anyway, so we know which way to go. What Kawasaki then produce and homologate for the future, we do not know exactly in advance. But of course we have some idea. At the same time, there is a marketing program that we have to respect.”
In simple language: No one from the Kawasaki Racing Team is allowed to reveal in detail before the presentation what technical innovations are coming. In Jerez work was done on almost every aspect of cycling.
“How long the alignment process takes depends on how many new parts you have on the bike,” explained Roda. “It can also be very quick and you just have to show that the required number of units will be delivered. It’s more of an administrative process that takes weeks, not months.”
Kawasaki still has time: Alignment should only be completed with technical inspection on Thursday before the start of the season in Australia on the last weekend in February.
Since the regulations of the World Superbike Championship are very restrictive, as long as the (unsuccessful) manufacturer is not allowed to get high-end concession parts, a new homologation is required to be able to make major changes to the chassis and engine.
Rea and Lowes have been asking for one thing above all since 2021: more engine power.