In 2002, Kawasaki decided to make a foray into the MotoGP championships. With a new 990cc racing prototype, the team decided to enter into the series and the 4-stroke engine introduction was just the shot in the arm that Kawasaki needed to be convinced that their decision was the right one.

Kawasaki got the chance to run their famous inline four cylinder engine with and displacement limitations. These cylinder and displacement limitations were the main cause behind Kawasaki’s failure at the 2-cylinder machines in the Superbikes World Series.

In the February of 2002, Akira Yanagawa got the chance to test the very first Ninja prototype at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The Ninja had a new prototype 990cc engine which was placed in a beautiful Superbike chassis and equipped with classic carburetors. This hybrid version of the Ninja had undergone some race-testing with Yanagawa at the All-Japan Championships. The results were decent enough to prove that there was great potential in the prototype.

Country Germany Germany
City Vohenstrauss
Founded 2002

The Ninja ZX-RR was officially launched in September. The chassis was 15kg lighter and for the first time, Kawasaki were exploring the world of fuel injection. In the final race of the 2002 season, the Ninja made its debut and finished at 12th place in the race standings.

In 2003, the team was officially launched with former 250cc race rider Harald Eckl as the team manager. The team headquarters were based in Vohenstrauss, in Germany. In the same season, Andrew Pitt, Garry McCoy and Alex Hoffman represented Kawasaki in the MotoGP championships. The team managed to gain points in just 5 races with Garry McCoy’s 9th place finish in France being the best finish for the entire season.

The season was disappointing but was part of a learning curve for the team and in 2004, Kawasaki went for a complete season with Alex Hoffman and Shinya Nakano. Kawasaki got a podium finish when Nakano finished in 3rd place in Japan. The rider finished the season in 10th place overall and Kawasaki were moving ahead with the bike’s development. The Ninja ZX-RR continued its development process throughout the season and by the end of the season, there were some changes in the bike’s configuration.

In the pre-season testing for 2005, Kawasaki made an adjustment to their engine and used a ‘Big Bang’ classification as compared to the earlier used screamer setup. This change helped Olivier Jacque take his Kawasaki to the podium for a well earned second place at a wet China circuit.

With Anthony West and John Hopkins taking the charge for the team in the latest season, the team will be hoping to make some significant changes in the results and start pushing for the title. With such a huge reputation to maintain, Kawasaki will certainly look to improve on their standings.