After a promising performance during testing at Phillip Island last week, Broc Parkes has high hopes of a top ten finish on his Kawasaki WSBK debut in this weekend's 2009 season-opener at the circuit.
Riding alongside mainly privateer rivals, with the exception of Aprilia, Parkes was an impressive fourth fastest by the end of the first test session with a lap time of 1min 32.90sec.
The leading factory-backed teams then took to the track on Saturday and Sunday but, combining the best lap times from both tests, Parkes would still have been ranked ninth - making a top ten during Sunday's two races a realistic target.
"I'm really excited to be making the step-up to the Kawasaki World Superbike team after five years racing in Supersport,” said Broc. “ I've started the pre-season testing adapting to the Superbike so our expectations haven't been too high at this early stage.
“The testing has been really productive, particularly on Phillip Island, as we discovered a lot about the bike which we wouldn't have found until the race weekend had we not tested,” said Parkes.
“I'm really happy with the new team and my guys are working hard on developing the bike so we can hopefully get in the points come Phillip Island. I'd love to walk away with a top 10 finish for my home race, but we'll wait and see. I'll be giving it my absolute best,” he added.
The 27-year-old has been twice runner-up in the World Supersport Championship for Yamaha and also finished 11th in the 2002 SBK Championship aboard a privateer Ducati
Team-mate Makoto Tamada is one of a few riders to have won both WSBK and MotoGP races, but those victories came before 2005 and the Japanese badly needs to bounce back in 2009.
"I'm feeling comfortable with the new structure and set up for 2009 and I believe the team and I have a mutual understanding of what we need to achieve and where we are headed,” said Tamada of the new Paul Bird run factory team. “We share the same problems and I think we will progress in a positive direction in order to get the bike to its highest potential.
“The pre-season testing has been beneficial and we have been working hard on solving some set-up issues ready for the season opener. Phillip Island is one of my favourite tracks from my GP days, except when it's windy, and I love the enthusiasm of the Australian crowd so I'm really looking forward to the race weekend."
"I'm confident we can get some good points on the board this weekend and that has to be the main aim,” declared Bird. “There's no reason why we can't score a top ten in Australia first time out but we're under no illusions as to the enormity of our task. We still are developing the bikes and the first couple of races will be hard but the aim is to get the opening two rounds under our belts and then make some major strides forward once we get back into Europe."