The world's newest Grand Prix circuit, Istanbul Park, will take the Kawasaki Racing Team and factory riders, Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque, into uncharted territory this weekend.
Built at a cost of 115 million Euros, Istanbul Park - the Otodrom - will host the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix, which is the latest addition to the MotoGP calendar.
The 14 turn, 5.34km circuit was constructed on a 200 hectare site 55 kms outside Istanbul, and purpose-built to showcase MotoGP and Formula 1 events. It was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, who was also responsible for the Sepang and Shanghai circuits.
The track hosted its first F1 race in August, and this Sunday it will be the turn of the world's fastest MotoGP riders and bikes.
Features of the circuit include its width, 21 metres in places, and a series of dramatic plunges and climbs between turns one and eleven that evoke memories of Spa and Imola - two classic Grand Prix circuits.
From the circuit layout the most challenging section appears to be the super-fast, triple-apex turn 8 - a long left-hand corner with a high-speed entry - followed by a flat-out downhill section to the turn 9 hairpin.
Just how Nakano and Jacque will handle the circuit aboard their 990cc, Ninja ZX-RR machines is unknown, because there has been no previous MotoGP testing at the circuit.
The opening free practice session on Friday morning, extended to 90 minutes because of the all-new circuit, will provide many of the answers as riders and technicians work towards an ideal race set-up.
Nakano is in superb form, as demonstrated by his last lap burst into seventh place in last Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, and he is targeting a continuation of that pace over the final two races in Turkey and Valencia.
Meanwhile Jacque, again replacing the injured Alex Hofmann, is aiming for a more positive outcome than his Phillip Island outing, where he finished 16th.
Practice for the Turkish Grand Prix starts just five days after riders, teams and cargo aircraft have made the rush trip from Australia to prepare for the penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Shinya Nakano: #56
"I've never been to Turkey but I bought a travel guide, that's as much as I know - I gather one side is Asian and the other side European. I will take time to look around Istanbul, but also I will try and understand the track before we start practice on Friday morning. I watched the F1 race on television and it seems there are some high-speed corners, and the track looks interesting, but it is difficult to know how it will suit the ZX-RR and our tyres. Like at Phillip Island, I just want to push for the best possible result, and hopefully we can achieve our maximum potential here."
Olivier Jacque: #19
"Another new circuit to learn, and all I really know about the track is the same as everyone else, from watching the F1 race. But learning new tracks is usually not a problem for me, and with the extra 30 minutes of practice on Friday and Saturday we should have enough time to find an ideal race set-up. I like experiencing new cultures, so I'm looking forward to the Turkey race, and also to putting the frustration of Phillip island behind me."
Source: Fuchs Team Eckl