Kevin Curtain took Kawasaki to the front of the ASBK grid at Queensland last weekend. MotoOnline.com.au catches up with him to find out how.
Queensland Raceway’s double-header round of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship saw the Kawasaki Racing Team amongst the front runners for the first time in a very long time last weekend, with veteran Kevin Curtain finally putting the ZX-10R at the front.
The multiple-times Australian champion and former World Supersport runner-up scored the first ever ASBK Superpole on Saturday afternoon, gridding up for Sunday’s round 3b from pole position and using it to good effect with a pair of third places in the races.
After a season with MV Agusta last year, Curtain has been reunited with Dave ‘Radar’ Cullen at Kawasaki for 2009, the pair working together for the first time since their epic Radar’s Team Yamaha days almost a decade ago.
It was refreshing to see Kawasaki battling for the lead, and Curtain’s results just add to the recipe for a successful season for Australian road racing, and he says there’s still more to come for Team Green.
MotoOnline.com.au caught up with him to get the inside scoop on his and Kawasaki’s Queensland success.
You must be absolutely thrilled with your performance on the ZX-10R at Queensland Raceway last weekend?
I’m still over the moon. I’m trying to get back down to earth, you know, I just can’t believe the results. It was great. Not often do you go racing and everything you do goes along in the right direction, and that’s exactly what happened for us on the weekend.
I was speaking to Radar today and he couldn’t believe it either. Usually something goes wrong, but everything that we touched went to plan and in the right direction. It was unbelievable.
You seem surprised in your performance. Is that a fair thing to say?
Yeah, for sure, because when we got there the bike wasn’t that great, but we’ve come a long way just in those four days. Every time we got on the bike we were basically testing new set-ups. It was awesome.
What meant more to you…scoring pole position or taking those two podium places on Sunday?
Ah, I reckon winning the first ever ASBK Superpole was pretty good, so probably that!
You finished on the podium in both races but you were just pipped for the overall podium by Wayne Maxwell. Was that disappointing?
You know, it was sort of a downer, but honestly missing out by one point and finishing third overall wasn’t really a big concern compared to what we achieved over the whole weekend.
Something clicked last weekend because that’s the first time we’ve seen green up the front in ASBK for quite some time. What was it?
I think the team has been working really hard and I’ve been racking my brain trying to use my experience to work out how we can make the bike better. So I think with my experience, the team’s experience, and Radar’s experience, I understand what he says and he understands what I say. The whole team just works great and that’s how we’ve come to achieve what we did on the weekend.
Looking back to last year and when you first signed with Kawasaki, how much has the bike changed since then?
Heaps. It’s changed a lot. We use a Penske rear shock rather than the Öhlins, and just so many other things have been changed on the bike. It’s incredible.
So you and Radar are back to your old antics then? Working well together and being on the pace…
That’s it! You just have to do what makes it work. It’s not rocket science and that’s what it takes. If we aren’t happy with one thing then we try something else, and we just need to keep pushing and pushing until we find something we like and start getting closer. I think it showed on the weekend that we gradually got closer and closer and closer.
From the sidelines the Kawasaki seems blazingly fast. What do you think its strong points are?
I reckon the strong points now are its chassis and suspension set up more so than its power. There were a couple of times that I went down the back straight that I got beside another bike I just started going backwards. I think what was making me so fast down that straight was that I was just getting such better drive and it was launching me off the corners.
So the handling’s strong?
Is this the beginning of something big for Kevin Curtain and Kawasaki? Can you build on this momentum into Eastern Creek?
Yeah, I think that we can. Honestly we’re still not there. We’ve still got a few more things to try, so we are going to do that at Eastern Creek and see if we can get the Kawasaki up there a bit further.
You’ve been around a long time. What’s your take on this new ASBK series?
I think it’s coming along mighty fine actually. I think that Superpole is really good and it’s interesting for everybody really – it was one of the highlights of Saturday after what happened, you know. Especially since it was the first time ever.
The series has changed a lot this year since Yarrive Konsky [International Entertainment Group] has been in it, and it’s obviously still early days for him. But I think he’s on the right track and I think he is going to take Australian road racing to a level that it’s never been at before.
That’s what I’m thinking right now.
Well done and looking forward to watching you progress for the rest of the season. Awesome job Kev.
Beautiful, thanks a lot.