Having been entrusted with the works Kawasaki World Superbike effort for this year, the Paul Bird Motorsport Team got off to a steady start when the opening round of the Hannspree World Superbike Championship took place at Phillip Island in Australia earlier today.
After securing a slot in the all-important new Superpole, Aussie Broc Parkes slotted the Kawasaki ZX10-R into 16th place on the grid for a row four start at his home event whereas Japanese rider, Makoto Tamada ended up in 22nd place, just a further second down.
In the opening race, Parkes got a great start and was lying inside the top ten in the early stages before a clutch problem forced him out on lap eight and Tamada showed great consistency throughout the race to end up in 18th place.
Race two saw both riders get poor starts and despite some problems with chatter and grip around the circuit near Melbourne, Tamada and Parkes both felt minor improvements and were happy to bring their ZX-10R machines home and complete their first full race distance for the year in 17th and 18th places respectively.
Broc Parkes: "The first race was a major disappointment for me as I had a really good start and we had good pace early on but I really struggled with chatter and finally a clutch problem took me out of the race. I didn't get a good start in race two which set me back further in the field but this is the first race distance on the bike and it was one of the toughest rides I have had in a long time. I was determined to finish the race so we can try and get some progress on set-up and data ready for the next race in Qatar."Makoto Tamada: "I experienced some pretty bad chatter issues in race one and I found it really hard to push the bike to improve on my position. I was surprised that I was able to keep the pace and even though I am not happy with the result, I was happy to finish the race in order to give the team valuable race data. We made some minor set-up changes in race two and it was better than in race one and it was nice to be able to do some overtaking. Like most riders today I struggled a lot with grip but overall I'm happy to give the team some feedback so we can continue to improve."Paul Risbridger (Team Manager): "We have started the season with a standard machine specification and our testing and qualifying has been fairly positive. We were not so unhappy with our qualifying position with being only a second off pole position and it was great to see Broc compete in the new Superpole sessions. We're still learning a lot about the bike and it is clear to us that although the ZX-10R has good speed and is running well, we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to race pace and to get the bike consistently in the points. We are realistic about our objective and we're looking at seeing some significant improvements over the next few races."
Paul Bird (Team Owner): "I was hoping we could have scored some points this weekend but it just goes to show how hard this championship is. We still have quite a lot of work to do and we always knew these first couple of rounds were going to be particularly tough but with the experience gained, I'm fully expecting us to start getting inside the top fifteen from now on."