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The dramatic setting of Losail International Circuit in the Qatari desert formed the perfect stage for the press launch of the much anticipated Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R during the first part of March.
Unveiled in Europe at the Intermot and EICMA international motorcycle shows, the duo of machines featuring entirely in-house designed and manufactured Superchargers were a dramatic sight in the Losail pit-box complex as total of five journalist groups visited the 5.38 kilometre facility.
With the premier two-wheel journalists from across Europe as well as America’s Cycle World and a major Brazilian television broadcaster in attendance, the anticipation was palpable. Even journalists with decades of experience were visibly moved as the Kawasaki Motors Europe technicians warmed up the road focussed Ninja H2 for the first track session each day under the watchful eye of Mr Satoaki Ichi, the Project Leader for the duo of amazing machines.
Joining Ichi-san from the Kawasaki factory was the head of the styling team Mr Keishi Fukumoto and from the Product Planning section Miss Eiko Kirino, all eager to gauge and gather the reactions of each rider as they returned to the pit lane.
In a more “hands-on” fashion, Kawasaki’s chief test rider for the project, Shigeru Yamashita joined riders on the circuit to evaluate the riding reaction and, in his own words, to “have some fun on these amazing Supercharged Ninja machines”.
The words of the product presentation were ringing in the ears of journalists as they circulated the famous tarmac that plays host to World Superbike racing and MotoGP. Machines that only the huge Kawasaki manufacturing conglomerate could and would make with contributions from the Aerospace division and Gas Turbine division; combining with the skill and ambition of the Motorcycle division.
As Ichi-san so eloquently put it, “This is the ideal marriage, an engine built solely for the Supercharger and the Supercharger designed especially for this engine unit”; a fact borne out by figures of 75% efficiency for the centrifugal unit during testing.
Focussing on the power and torque of the Ninja H2, the response from journalists mentioned the huge range of available torque from tick-over across the rev range and the power feeling that many thought unique in the world of motorcycling. The understanding that this was not a pure track machine but more the road-going pinnacle of Kawasaki technology was underpinned with comments that underlined Kawasaki’s decision to equip both machines with a trellis type frame for both sporting handling characteristics and its ability to effective duct engine heat away.
For each group of journalists, lunchtime proved an ideal opportunity to distil their impressions of the Ninja H2 road bike and make ready for the afternoon riding session. The shrill staccato bark of four Ninja H2R machines being warmed up in the pit box area announced starkly that the chance to ride the fastest accelerating production motorcycle in the world was but minutes away.
“It was with a look of deep concentration that each rider approached their allocated machine”, commented Kawasaki’s technical team manager for the event, Michael Resch. “This is a closed course only machine with over 300 horsepower and you could feel that the journalists were all concerned to become familiar with its performance at a measured pace. As soon as the first few laps were completed the start finish straight atmosphere was pierced every minute or so with machines passing by at speeds a MotoGP rider would be proud of”.
And top class racing was on the lips of riders as they returned to pit lane making their first breathless statements about this unique machine.
“Some journalists were almost speechless”, commented Tobias Schading, one of Kawasaki’s European test riders. “They looked genuinely overwhelmed at the performance and game changing acceleration of the Ninja H2R. More than one said that this was as close to a MotoGP bike that any non-racing motorcycle would ever reach. And like its Ninja H2 road focused brother, the Ninja H2R is in a unique position as a circuit only machine but not an out-and-out racer”.
Last word goes to Shigemi Tanaka of Kawasaki Motors Europe.
“Even before this historic event, the news pages of magazines and motorcycle web sites were alight with details and comments regarding the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R project. For many what unfolded at Losail represented the latest page in Kawasaki’s performance heritage, two machines which will surely become icons and milestones on their own right in the time-line of motorcycling.”