Kawasaki concluded its final test of 2008, alongside Suzuki at Phillip Island, under no illusions as to the amount of work ahead - but hopes to return to the Australian circuit before the first official test of 2009 in order to directly compare progress.
After Friday's third and final day of testing, new signing Marco Melandri was the fastest of the three Kawasaki riders present with a best lap time of 1min 31.8sec. That was just 0.115sec under the fastest ZX-RR race lap during October's Australian Grand Prix and 0.9sec behind the quickest lap of the test, set by Suzuki's Loris Capirossi.
"These three days have been pretty successful, as we leave Phillip Island having given our engineers in Japan a clear direction in which to drive the development of Kawasaki's 2009 Ninja ZX-RR," said Kawasaki competition manager Michael Bartholemy.
"All three riders have worked hard this week, and we've seem some positive results, but we're under no illusions about how much work there is to do between now and next year if we are to be competitive from the start next season," he warned.
Kawasaki remains the only MotoGP manufacturer without a race win since the four-stroke era began in 2002 and was the only manufacturer not to claim a podium finish in 2008.
As part of its attempts to be competitive in 2009, Kawasaki hopes to return to Phillip Island after the winter test ban ends on January 20 - and before the first official test, at Sepang from February 5-7.
"We hope to return to Phillip Island to confirm any changes made to the bike as a result of this week's test, as this will provide a good reference point for future improvements, but we won't be able to confirm any test dates until the grand prix commission has ratified the new sporting regulations in December," said Bartholemy.