Having struggled to even match the team's lap times from their MotoGP debut at Motegi last season, Kawasaki riders' Garry McCoy and Andrew Pitt both reversed that situation today with impressive progress.

McCoy reduced his Friday time by 1.2secs while his fellow Australian, and Motegi debutante, Pitt slashed his previous best by 1.5secs as he continued to learn the stadium-style layout.

That put the pair 0.6 and 0.2secs inside Akira Yanagawa's best 2002 qualifying time at the circuit - still nothing like the improvement the team must have hoped for, or expected, in a year.

McCoy will start 21st after posting his best time with 25 minutes remaining in the session, while Pitt secured 22nd on grid with his fastest time coming on his penultimate lap.

With revised electronic management settings, the upgraded engine delivered for Motegi is now more rider friendly and both riders declared themselves happier with the smoother bottom end power delivery during today's sessions, which helped control the front end lift problems experienced yesterday.

"For me it was pretty much keeping the base set-up from yesterday, some new wheels, tyres and brake pads and away I went," said McCoy. "The main change was the engine characteristics and less engine braking and both my bikes had the longer gear ratios from yesterday, which help keep the front end down at this track.

"The new motor now feels better off the bottom end and you can notice the difference at the top end with more rpm on hand," he added. "In the fast changes of direction the bike still feels heavy and I can't dream of taking the lines some other riders are using, but we seem to have a good base for the race. My cold feels worse today and I went to the Clinic at lunch time, but I don't want to use that as an excuse."

"I took a big chunk of time, one and half seconds, off my Friday lap so I'm pretty happy with that," smiled Pitt. "I kept the bike exactly the same as yesterday other than just smoothing out the power delivery on the bottom end, which helps control the wheelie problem we are experiencing here.

"I just kept chipping away at learning the track and doing race distance tyre runs and it looks like we have a good option for tomorrow. I'm enjoying the track and getting a better feel for the new engine package and hope to make more progress tomorrow in the race."

One thing which definitely won't please the Kawasaki bosses present at Motegi is that the 2003 ZXRR has slipped from 2.2secs behind pole a year ago, to 3secs today...



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