Team Green could bring a new superbike for the 2020 model year, or at least that is what the scuttlebutt from Europe is saying.
The news of a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR comes from comments made by KRT Senior Engineer Ichiro Yoda while talking to Germany’s Speedweek website.
In responding to the dominant force laid bare by the Ducati Panigale V4 R and Alvaro Bautista, Yoda-san signals Kawasaki’s response to the Italian manufacturer – namely that a new bike could debut for next year.
Yoda-san’s words indicate that Kawasaki could pull a similar move to what Ducati pulled with the Panigale V4 R, which is using the homologation rules as they were intended.
The Japanese brand is not happy that Ducati has made a “homologation special” motorcycle for the World Superbike Championship, especially one that is so potent and different from the company’s “regular” version.
Of course, this is exactly the kind of behavior that the WorldSBK rules encourage, with 250-unit volume sizes (in the first year, to be repeated in the second year) and €40,000 price caps.
For Kawasaki, this means that its process of merely evolving the current Ninja ZX-10RR superbike is not enough to level the playing field. Yoda-san himself admits in his interview with Speedweek that the Japanese brand needs to bring an all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR to market in order to compete with Ducati.
This machine also needs to take a page from the Italian rival, namely in using MotoGP technology at the WorldSBK level. Kawasaki has some qualms about this approach, however, as it resides outside the spirit of the rules…in their eyes.
Some of Yoda-san’s response could be tactics, of course, though it could also be the prevailing attitude from the Japanese manufacturers, when looking at the superbike market and its racing counterpart.
One can argue that the wonder has been lost from the superbike segment, with a stagnation of machines and technology.
There is a chicken and the egg effect here, in response to progress in the space and superbike sales, but we have seen from the European brands that there are certainly riders interested in sport bikes, as long as the product is intriguing.
Kawasaki does not seem content to sit idly by in the WorldSBK Championship. As such, we can expect a response for next year, and right now the only proportionate response is a new homologation special from the Japanese brand.
That’s good news for fans of superbike machinery. Stay tuned.