There will be a considerable amount of hard work ahead for Kawasaki between now and the start of the 2010 World Superbike Championship (WSBK) – that is the opinion of series returnee Chris Vermeulen, following his first serious outing aboard the ZX-10R in Spain.
Vermeulen will rejoin the WSBK fray next year after leaving back in 2006 to try his hand at MotoGP, where four seasons with Suzuki yielded just a single victory – despite clearly demonstrating his raw pace with no fewer than seven pole positions – and no championship finish better than sixth, leading to the Australian being shown the door at the end of the 2009 campaign.
Having subsequently concluded a deal to return to WSBK with the factory Kawasaki operation, the Brisbane native tried out his new mount at Cartagena – and if he acknowledged afterwards that there remains a long way to go, he professed himself encouraged by the progress made, and hopeful of a strong challenge in 2010 as he and team-mate Tom Sykes look set to benefit from greater resources than the team has had at its disposition in the past following the demise of its official MotoGP effort.
“It was a really positive test,” 27-year-old Vermeulen told the official WSBK website. “I now have a good base set-up and a solid platform to work from for the rest of the pre-season. For sure there's still a lot of work to be done, and I certainly wouldn't be challenging right at the front if the championship was starting now. I'm under no illusions how hard it's going to be in 2010, but the goal is to get this thing up the front and I'll be doing all I can to make that happen.
“At the test there were existing engineers, and they were joined by people from (Kawasaki's satellite MotoGP team) Hayate and engineers from Japan, which was great. They all started to gel together really well, which is going to be a great thing for me and Tom in the long-term.”
Kawasaki – which finished a distant seventh and last in the 2009 WSBK manufacturers' standings – is due to return to the Spanish test tracks at Almeria on 18-19 December, and at Jerez on 21-22 December.