Literally world class, the circuit is built in the Qatari desert within sight of the towering sky-scrapers of downtown Doha which, with constant urban development taking place, are gradually creeping inexorably toward it.
At 5.3 km, the sinuous ribbon of tarmac is a real test of rider and machine and, as such, an ideal place to launch the most technically advanced Ninja yet produced. With KHI development rider Pere Riba on hand for advice – plus a few surprise “guests” such as Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz – the scene was set for the debut of a machine that positively bristles with technology.
Circuit familiarisation and tracking photography over soon after their arrival, journalists then took to the track for their first high speed sessions. Divided into groups, and riding 20 minute sessions each, the schedule allowed each journalist plenty of track time and enough opportunity for the photographers to take the essential action shots for magazine front covers and features.
First impressions from the press are that the two main highlighted features from the Kawasaki Motors Europe media briefing session were indeed a step forward for the Ninja brand.
The new S-KTRC traction control was universally praised for its efficiency and unobtrusive nature. Harnessing a claimed 200PS at the crank, journalist selected from one of three traction control modes combined with one of three modes of engine power setting - all achieved via a simple rocker switch on the left handlebar. The smoothness was the most accomplished many journalists had yet felt on a road bike; and a worthy opponent for competitor products with less sophisticated sampling and monitoring systems.
The motorcycle media present certainly used their late afternoon time to good effect exploring the so-called “Delta” technology of the Kawasaki patented S-KTRC traction control system which uses past history to effectively “predict” future actions. In light of competitor systems that simply react, this pro-active design incorporates innovations created single handidly by Kawasaki in Japan using an entirely “in-house” development team.
More familiar perhaps, the three way power mode switch also employs some useful and new technology. With a low power map plus a full power mode, the middle setting is probably the one most riders will us the majority of the time.
Interestingly this mode has a standard map which allows approximately 70% of full power to be accessed. However, it can be “re-mapped” by the rider changing their style to release greater power if it be needed via more aggressive use of the throttle – again another new Ninja innovation that many magazines will seek to explain in fine detail in coming issues.
Their brief evening break over, all journalists present were delighted to find that they were being allowed a rare privilege and would ride under the famous Losail floodlights.
Changing from dark visors to clear or yellow blades, riders embarked on a series of night laps which they would remember for years to come in terms of location, experience and, of course, machine.
The final riding session which occurred on the morning of the second day was a much anticipated chance for the motorcycle media to test the third of Kawasaki’s much talked about new Ninja features, optional sport style anti-lock braking.
KIBS has been carefully developed by engineers at KHI and their technology partner, Bosch, to be a genuine sport riding aid and to tie in closely with the overriding theme of the newest Ninja, the ability to maintain the ZX-10R’s hard core appeal yet make the unique Kawasaki Supersport riding experience available to a wide range of riders.
A genuine look of satisfaction on the faces of each journalist as they returned from riding the ABS equipped machines confirmed that the highly effectively yet unobtrusive nature of the compact system had achieved its design goal.
Summing up as the first journalists left for the airport, Marketing Manager for Kawasaki Motors Europe, Jan Willem van der Straten, was brimming with enthusiasm.
“What a great venue, and what a tremendous reaction to the new Ninja ZX-10R. We sincerely hope that every journalist that has a chance to ride this much anticipated machine enjoys the experience and that, as soon as full scale production begins, enthusiasts across Europe can try this exciting new Ninja for themselves”.