After months of intensive development, the true test of whether the new Kawasaki ZX-10R will prove a competitive World Superbike package will come this weekend when it makes its race debut at Phillip Island.

The machine has been long-anticipated since it was revealed six months ago, with Kawasaki following the lead of champions Aprilia by designing the ZX-10R from the outset with racing success in mind.

With an expanded three-man line-up signalling a determined bid to lift itself off the bottom of the WSBK manufacturer standings for the first time in four years, there is confidence that the green machine will be capable of fighting at the front this season.

Though Tom Sykes, who scored a shock pole position for the team last season, admits there is still more to come from the bike, he is pleased with the consistent top ten - and occasional top five - pace shown so far.

"I'm ready for the new season to start now, and we will use the two days of qualifying coming up to get the bike ready to race on Sunday," he said. "I think things will be close on race weekend, maybe too close to call, and I feel that we could certainly be good for consistency.

"For sheer lap time there are a couple of things holding me back a little now but if we can dial them out we will find a good bit of speed too. We have a couple of days after the tests to relax and work towards race weekend. I am looking forward to riding my new Ninja ZX-10R in races now, after a series of good winter tests."

Sykes will be flanked by Joan Lascorz and Chris Vermeulen this season, though the latter is sitting out the season opener due to injury.



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