A new era for Kawasaki
Le Mans, France, April 17th 2023 - Now the boss of the official Kawasaki team in EWC, Ryuji Tsuruta concluded his first 24h Motos in tenth position. A step for a team undergoing reconstruction.
This winter, the Kawasaki structure entered in the World Endurance Championship changed hands. With Gilles Stafler deciding to retire, the SRC team became the Kawasaki Webike Trickstar team. And Ryuji Tsuruta has taken over the reins. “The technical structure has remained the same," commented Randy de Puniet, one of the #11 Kawasaki riders. “So we are not too disoriented.” Not everything is perfect yet, but it is getting there. “We have tried to keep all the positive things Gilles put in place", explains Fabien Raulo, Kawasaki’s technical coordinator. “The refuelling system, the technicians, the chief mechanic... And we have tried to improve the methodology by taking advantage of the experience of the Japanese who have taken charge of the team.
For its first official race, the Webike Trickstar Kawasaki team did not achieve the hoped for result. Tenth on the grid at the Bugatti circuit, the ZXR-RR took the chequered flag in tenth place. "Our team was too disparate", notes Randy de Puniet, who was racing at Le Mans with Kazuki Watanabe and Iwato Ryosuke, two Japanese riders lacking experience in endurance racing. Fourth at the end of his first stint, the Frenchman set a pace that his team-mates found difficult to maintain. Especially as the #11 Kawasaki was not set up to cope with the difficult conditions that included the track temperature dropping three degrees overnight. “We improved the chassis with five hours to go by changing the rear shock absorber," continued de Puniet. “In the first part of the race the bike was hard to change angle and was squatting too much on acceleration out of corners." An early morning crash by Ryosuke also slowed the team's progress. "There are lots of things to improve and we will certainly be more competitive next month at Spa Francorchamps", concluded the Frenchman.