Chris Vermeulen signs for Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team

2009-10-05 02:42
Chris Vermeulen, one of the few riders to win both MotoGP and World Superbike races, has joined the Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team for the 2010 season.

Currently racing in MotoGP, Vermeulen will soon apply his talents to the official WSB Ninja ZX-10R and will get his first chance to ride the machine during tests in November.

Vermeulen’s career path after his initial successes in his native Australia saw him make his international breakthroughs in Asian and British Championships, with his first global success coming with ultimate victory in the 2003 World Supersport Championship.

A promotion to World Superbike in 2004 and 2005 culminated with the highly respected Vermeulen a close runner up in his second year on a 1000cc machine. His subsequent move to MotoGP netted him a win at Le Mans and six other podium places in more recent times.

During his previous WSB career Chris secured 23 podiums, including 10 wins, from 45 starts. His immediate aim for Kawasaki is to expand those already impressive statistics. Still only 27 years old, Vermeulen is a highly experienced rider who brings with him a burning desire to succeed, and the proven talent to make an impact in WSB racing.

With the arrival of Chris in the team for 2010 the entire Kawasaki World Superbike Racing team would like to say thank you to Makoto Tamada for his sterling efforts in the past two years. Makoto will leave the Kawasaki WSB structure at the end of 2009 with the very best wishes of all the Kawasaki family following him in his future endeavours.

Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki European Race Planning Manager, said of Chris’s arrival in 2010 : “The Kawasaki World Superbike team structure has evolved well in this its first year being run by Paul Bird and his experienced crew. For next year we realise that we need to make another step forward to be competitive at WSB level and we believe Chris could be the key to this. It’s an understatement to say we are looking forward to next season now, we just can’t wait!”

Ichiro Yoda, Director of Kawasaki Motors Racing - said: “Chris has the full backing of the factory next season and with the project we are creating now in WSB with Chris, then I believe we can be very competitive next year. We will make improvements step-by-step and we have a heavy test schedule planned already in order to do just that. Chris’ comments will be key to move the Ninja ZX-10R development in the right direction, so I’m very happy to be working with him.”

Chris Vermeulen Q&A:

Q: What was the major attraction of a partnership with Kawasaki, as you were also speaking with other manufacturers?
CV: I spoke with Yoda-san and he convinced me that Kawasaki was prepared to put in large amounts of resources and attention into winning the World Superbike Championship. That is what I want, to challenge and to win races.

Q: Did riding for a team based in the UK, where you started your global career, have its own attraction - because of the lack of language barrier, etc?
CV: Very much so, I have been lucky in the fact that most of my previous teams were naturally English speaking or who worked in English in the garage anyway. I know Paul Bird from my time racing in the UK, and I know that he runs a great outfit. Of course, with the language barrier not being an issue it can only be yet another positive aspect of the move to Kawasaki in WSB.

Q: How well do you know the guys in the Kawasaki World Superbike Racing team?
CV: I don’t know most of the other guys in the team that well, but I know that they are a good team and I am really looking forward to racing with them. I know some of the people from Kawasaki’s previous GP team from my experiences over the past few years. Some of those people will also be working on the project as well in 2010, so I’m looking forward to working with all of them.

Q: When will you get your first chance to ride the Ninja ZX-10R in anger?
CV: I was hoping to get a ride on the bike at the Portimao tests after the race there but my current team does not want to release me from my current contract until the GP season is finished, which is completely understandable. So my first ride should be at Autopolis in Japan on 18th and 19th November.

Q: Yoda-san has spoken of an extensive testing programme for you, how do you feel about this?
CV: I’m very happy and excited about this. There are so many limits on testing in MotoGP now that sometimes you have to wait so long you feel that you can forget what riding a motorcycle is! The provisional test schedule has around six or seven tests on it, so I am looking forward to being able to ride so often. I love racing and riding and that was another attraction about coming back to race in WSB.

Q: Do you think your recent MotoGP experience will help you make a quicker transition to a modern-day Superbike, because of electronics, etc?
CV: Yes, very much so, and I think that Kawasaki understood that my experience with electronics and so on would be a help in the development of the bike.

Q: How do you feel about going back to do two races per meeting and will it affect your training regime?
CV: I think I will change my training a bit to allow for two races per day. But the main thing is that I love racing, so to have two races per day means that I can have more fun!

Q: Which racetracks, that are not shared with MotoGP, are you most eager to get back to?
CV: I really missed racing at Imola, and Monza is another special, unique circuit. I would love to race at Kyalami again, even though I haven’t been there for quite some time. There will be some completely new circuits for me in 2010 as well, Miller, Salt Lake City and Portimao, but I am looking forward to racing on all of them.

Q: What is a realistic goal for you in 2010?
CV: It is really hard to say until I actually get a chance to ride the bike, but as a racer my first goal is always to try and win races. I think we should start out with the aim of finishing inside the top five at every race and then see where we can go from there.

Source: Kawasaki Racing Team

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