Chris Vermeulen says development of Kawasaki's new Superbike could begin as early as August as the manufacturer looks to get a headstart on its rivals for 2011.
The Japanese manufacturer has struggled to make a success of the current generation ZX-10R Ninja since it was introduced and has finished bottom of the WSBK constructor pile for the last three seasons.
However, it is on course to bring a new bike to the grid in 2011 as it bids to forge its way further up the field, an endeavour it began towards the end of the 2009 season with the acquisition of MotoGP and World Superbike race winner Vermeulen, who has been charged with developing the machine.
Although the Australian has endured a torrid return to World Superbike competition so far after an accident at the Phillip Island season opener left him with an awkward knee injury, an affliction he is still recovering from, he admits he will soon begin focusing on 2011.
"Tom (Sykes) is doing a good job with the current bike and it is improving all the time, but our focus is on next year and the completely new bike,” he told Bikeracing.it
. “There is a possibility of being able to test soon, probably in August."
"I saw the bike last November while I was in Japan, but what I could see was just a prototype in the early stages, so it has probably now changed again. I know that the characteristics of the engine will be completely new, the bike will be smaller and the gearbox will be different and made so it can be replaced more easily between races.”
While Vermeuen has battled injury, team-mate Sykes has impressed on the Paul Bird Motorsport-prepared ZX-10R, most notably at Monza when he finished in fifth position - the manufacturer's best result since 2007.