Akira Yanagawa crashed out in the early stages of yesterday's Pacific GP with a spectacular fall (pictured) that spoilt the new ZX-RR's first race - and proved that the green machine needs much more work to challenge the MotoGP regulars.

But, despite two crashes, the weekend was far from a disaster for the newest of the new-generation 990cc prototypes: Although still in first prototype form, the new fuel-injected machine was lapping consistently, qualifying 17th to start on the fifth row of the grid.

Yanagawa escaped serious injury in the crash, and is expected to be fit for next weekend's Malaysian GP.

Takashi Yasui, Staff Officer at Kawasaki R&D, admitted the team were disappointed with Yanagawa's early exit, but are investigating what went wrong.

"Obviously, we wanted to finish our first race in MotoGP, but it wasn't meant to be," began Yasui. "Akira crashed, and we are investigating if this happened due to an engine problem. He felt some pain in his hip after his accident, and even though he was cleared by the doctors in the medical centre of the track, we preferred to check him into the hospital for a thorough x-ray check-up. But it seems that there is no problem for him to race next week in Malaysia."

Yasui then admitted that they have much to do to match the Hondas and Yamahas at the sharp end of the grid: "We saw how high the level of our competitors really is, and we learned that we have to improve our machine - very quickly!"

Experienced Team Manager Harald Eckl highlighted the team's progress throughout the weekend: "We were able to improve the bike quickly day by day, even the chattering problems that slowed Akira yesterday were already a thing of the past with today's set-up changes."

Eckl also confirmed that there was nothing his rider could have done to avoid the crash: "The rear of the bike stepped out so suddenly that Akira had no chance to save it, and we just hope that the first diagnosis will be confirmed and that he's fit to race in Sepang."



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