Yoshimoto Matsuda, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Senior Manager for power sports, motorcycles, motocross and jet skis, is the Project Leader not only for KRT in WorldSBK but also the man behind the development of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and RR models over the past few years.
During a special media interview session shortly before the official launch of the 2018 works KHI team, Matsuda-san was not backward in coming forward with some of his concerns, and even some possible new solutions to give WorldSBK a broader appeal.
When asked by the assembled media what he thought about the controversial changes in the 2018 tech regulations regarding maximum allowable engine revs, and even if there been any talks inside KHI about Kawasaki’s possible future in WorldSBK for the next five years, Matsuada-san said. “As the engineer and also the senior manager of the power sports organisation for a factory like Kawasaki, I have a great worry about the future of World Superbike…” That seems partly because of the new balancing rules, which will affect Kawasaki more than any others at the start of 2018, as Matsuda developed the idea. “…Because this regulation is not a technical regulation. It is a great impact for World Superbike itself. It seems like the concept of the race is a little bit changed. It is a lot of freedom that the organiser can control the result of the race. Honestly speaking I feel a little bit anxious about World Superbike itself. Because, for the audience can we keep the attractiveness, fun to watch.”
Matsuda-san explained further. “I think that racing should be fair and equal, but not even. If you have a great idea you can design a fast bike, the results must be fast. You have a reason, and like this, competition is healthy competition. If you want to control this competition I believe this is the start of the ending. This is my worry. I think from the company point of view, this racing’s meaning. I personally like the racing but the for the meaning of the company, we are a motorcycle company. We have to think about the future of the motorcycle world.”
Matsuda-san even came out with two radical ideas of his own to introduce more varied machinery types into WorldSBK. “We must keep some area to try to challenge and invest technical wise for the future. So I have two opinions for this. If WorldSBK is a production-based race, then everything must be open. So one team can use a 1400cc – OK. 250cc – OK. We use a Supercharger, but with the same regulations of what you can change. Some people would say ‘Oh, we (Kawasaki) have a supercharger bike’, but it is not every time strong. Sure, on the straight it is good, but in the corner we have a lot of challenge. We have a challenge and we have a reason to do the race. This is my first opinion. If you want to keep this as a healthy concept for the future, please Dorna think about this concept and this possibility. If you want to say that this is a production race, then everything should be open. Everything is OK. 1200cc OK but also supercharger is OK.”
Possibly even more radical is what appears to be his opinion on allowing a kind of ‘hybrid’ electrical system into WorldSBK. “We must think about electrical power. Everybody thinks about electric vehicles. Motorcycle wise, I do not believe in electrical vehicles because (they need) too much battery, only. But we cannot deny the support of electric power. This is my opinion. For electrical power we can accept additional modification. Like putting a motor or battery, should be free. If you make it free this is a big reason for the company to invest a lot and challenge. If you put a battery and motor on a bike it is not only positive – because then you have more weight. Please remember that when they started with four-strokes in MotoGP some people said, ‘no chance for four-stroke’. But the four-stroke is faster than two stroke. Four strokes are heavier but that is why they said four-strokes had no chance. Now we have to find a lot of ways to manage the engine braking. Then this technology goes into production. This is a healthy way to keep the racing. This is my opinion to Dorna, please think of two challenges. This is my opinion.”
To those who say that he is interested in broadening the technical boundaries of what a WorldSBK machine is because Kawasaki already has its Supercharged H2R ready to go, Matsuda san states, “I do not wish to push just the supercharger. My opinion is that everything must be free. Once it is a production bike then just follow homologation. Right now we can modify only a few things, camshaft change, machine ports, intake ports, but except this everything has to be production. So if we saw that this is production based then maybe Dorna should say everything is OK. Suzuki can come with a Hayabusa, or we can race the H2. Then people can say what bikes is best. I do not push only the Supercharger.”
By Gordon Ritchie