Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Kawasaki Racing Team

Q&A: Ichiro Yoda

A love of motorcycles that started with riding street bikes led to Ichiro Yoda
taking up a job with Yamaha immediately after graduating from Tokyo's
Metropolitan University at the end of the seventies.

Yoda's first project for his new employer was a single-cylinder machine designed
for the Middle Eastern market; a far cry from the high-tech MotoGP machines he
would work on in the future. But it was not long before Yoda made the switch to
the racing department, where he was involved in projects as varied as a
four-stroke 500GP machine and a 1000cc endurance racer, both of which were
tested but never raced.

Yoda also worked on the development of the OW61 500GP engine campaigned by Kenny
Roberts, before taking over as project leader on the YZR250 machine that
Venezuelan rider, Carlos Lavado, took to the World Championship title in its
debut season.

In 1994 Yoda returned to Japan to work on the 500GP project, but switched back
to the quarter litre class in 1998 to win the All Japan Championship with a
young Shinya Nakano. Yoda returned to Europe in 2000, with Olivier Jacque and
Shinya Nakano finishing the season first and second in the 250cc World
Championship standings aboard the bike that he had developed and built.

Yoda joined KHI as MotoGP Technical Director at the start of the 2005 season,
after spending his last four years with Yamaha heavily involved in the
development of their YZR-M1 MotoGP racer.

Q: After more than 20 years with the company your name is almost synonymous with
Yamaha. Why did you make the decision to switch allegiance to Kawasaki after
such a long time with one manufacturer?

A: Basically I wanted a new challenge, which is why I quit Yamaha at the end of
last year. I wanted to stay in racing, because I enjoy working in this
environment and this is where my experience lies, so when Kawasaki approached me
about working on the Ninja ZX-RR project I was very interested. After visiting
KHI I decided that this is what I wanted to do; it was the new challenge I had
been looking for.

Q: Will you base yourself in Europe this year, or do you feel it's more
important to be involved closely in the development programme in Japan?

A: The development work will be done mostly in Japan, using the data collected
at races and tests, so that's where I'll be based. After each race or test I
will return to Japan to continue the development work alongside the KHI engineers.

Q: You've only been with Kawasaki for a very short time, but what are your first
impressions of the company as a whole and the Kawasaki Racing Team in particular?

A: Kawasaki Heavy Industries is a big company that produces many products, not
just consumer products like motorcycles. They are involved in engineering
projects in a wide variety of areas, from aerospace to shipbuilding. This
involvement in such a range of engineering projects means that KHI has a good
level of engineering expertise in many disciplines. And while the number of
people working on the MotoGP project is only small compared to other projects, I
believe we have the engineers necessary to make the Ninja ZX-RR a success.

The Kawasaki Racing Team has a lot of experienced and well-motivated people.
Everyone in the team has the same goal of improving our results on the track. It
is a good environment in which to work and I think there is great potential for
the future.

Q: You've worked closely with both Shinya Nakano and his crew chief, Fiorenzo
Fanali, in the past. Do you think already having a good working relationship
with key people in the team makes the job of developing the Ninja ZX-RR any

A: Definitely, because we have worked together in the past it is very easy for
Shinya, Fiorenzo and myself to exchange ideas and communicate our opinions on
the development of the bike, and this speeds up the whole development process.

Q: The development of the 2005 Ninja ZX-RR was well underway by the time you
joined Kawasaki. Will you have a major input on the continued development of
this year's bike, or is your focus more on the 2006 season and the next variant
of the Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine?

A: Of course, I have to look to the future, but I also need to develop the bike
we have now because this is the bike we will race this season. The tests we've
done so far this year have allowed us to identify very clearly the development
direction we need to take with this bike, and what the requirements are for the
first race. I think that, with this knowledge, we will be in a position to
achieve some good results by the midpoint of the season.

Development can also be dictated by your competitors; if they've made
significant advances during the winter months then your own development
programme has to be flexible enough to reflect this if you are to remain
competitive. It may be that we have to revise our development plan when we see
what level our competitors have attained going into the new season.

Q: It's no secret that Kawasaki have been running a 'big bang' version of the
Ninja ZX-RR engine during pre-season testing, but what advantage does running a
revised firing order have over the more conventional 'screamer' engine?

A: we can see some advantages already by looking at the data, but it's equally
as important for us to listen to the feedback we get from the riders. From the
comments Shinya has made during testing it seems that the big bang engine makes
it easier for him to control the bike, especially when the performance of the
tyre starts to drop off, which it obviously does towards the end of a race.

These four-stroke MotoGP engines produce a lot of power, but this power has to
be transferred to the track and that is where the power characteristics of the
big bang engine offer an advantage over the screamer motor. The way that the big
bang engine delivers its power is better for the rear tyre, which can easily be
overwhelmed by the more aggressive, peakier delivery of the screamer engine.

Basically, the big bang engine allows us to make maximum use of the grip
available from the rear tyre, and this has a noticeable affect on lap times.

Q: There have obviously been some big changes in the engine department, but what
of the chassis? Have there been any major revisions in this area over the winter

A: We wanted to keep the basic chassis from 2004, as we have a good
understanding of how this chassis works. Because we know how the chassis
performs at the circuits we've tested at so far this year, we can see straight
away the affect that the new engine has on the bike as a whole. I think we will
only make some very small changes to the chassis this year, as we need to focus
our resources on developing the engine.

Q: Shinya Nakano has the smooth style typical of riders who cut their teeth in
the quarter litre class, whereas Alex Hofmann has a more aggressive style on the
bike. The two also have very different physical characteristics; Shinya is small
and light while Alex is tall and 20kg heavier than his Kawasaki teammate. How
difficult is to develop a bike that is suitable for two riders who differ to
such an extent?

A: It is sometimes difficult to change the basic ergonomics of the bike to suit
the physical characteristics of both riders, but we have managed to do this with
the Ninja ZX-RR. Once we've identified a good base setting on the bike I think
both riders will be able to fine-tune their individual set up to suit their
physical characteristics and their individual riding styles.

In terms of the engine, if we can provide as smooth a power delivery as possible
then I think this will suit both riders. I don't believe a difference in riding
styles really has any affect on the direction we take with the development of
the engine.

Q: On the strength of what you've seen of the Ninja ZX-RR and the Kawasaki
Racing Team's two riders during pre-season testing, what are your goals in terms
of results this season?

A: Racing is winning, so we must always aim to win. We're not here just to make
up the numbers, so it is important that we have a clear goal, and I like to keep
our goals and targets high. First we must develop the bike into a race-winner
and then we must put riders on the bike who are capable of winning races. If we
can do this then I think we will see some good results this season.

Q: Kawasaki originally came into MotoGP with a five-year plan that would see
them challenging for the World Championship title in 2007. Do you see this as a
realistic goal based in your experiences so far?

A: Yes, I think this is a realistic aim, and this is what we are working towards
with our development programme.