Kawasaki practically invented Superbike racing more than 30 years ago when Eddie Lawson, Reg Pridmore and Wayne Rainey tangled handlebars and rubbed elbows all across America aboard their wheel-waving, tire-smoking, naked-as-nature-intended KZ1000 in-line fours – with each of them winning the AMA Superbike title for Kawasaki.
Once Superbike racing got legitimized internationally by the establishment of the World Superbike Championship that’s celebrating its 25th birthday this year, it was somehow appropriate that it should be another Kawasaki-mounted American, Scott Russell, aboard Muzzy Racing’s factory-backed ZXR750, who ended Ducati’s dominance of the series in 1993. In doing so, he reclaimed the title for the Japanese factory that had been the first to win a Superbike race with a four-cylinder street racer, courtesy of Pridmore in 1977, who went on to lift Kawasaki’s first AMA crown that year.
That makes it equally appropriate that Kawasaki has returned to its Superbike roots by switching its entire defunct MotoGP engineering operation headed by technical director Ichiro Yoda to the Superbike sector. The end result is that in 2011 the factory-funded Kawasaki Racing Team debuted its all-new ZX-10R with Paul Bird Racing.
For the full test on the ZX-10R, see this week’s Cycle News by clicking on the following link: