Gautier Paulin has won two from the last four motos in the premier MXGP class of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship. In truth it should have been three if an errant stone hadn’t caused an engine failure in the second race of the Grand Prix of Trentino.
Seeing the Monster Energy Kawasaki factory racer consistently at the front of GP starts this year means the Holland-based KRT crew have been doing their homework and the KX450F remains one of the most exotic works machines in the gate.
“We have some new things on suspension that brings an improvement over last year like the air forks,” Team Manager Francois Lamariey starts to explain. “Engine internals we worked on and one of the things we needed to improve over last year were our starts. So we primed the power for this with more bottom-end, torque and middle range. On the 450 that’s all you need because you are not hitting the high rpm. The best bike will be the one that is the strongest in the middle of the range.”
Riders Paulin and Frossard have also benefitted from boosted power thanks to Kawasaki’s European operation forging a tighter knit with the championship-winning juggernaut in California.
“We have a new partnership with Pro Circuit and it is quite interesting because they have a strong image and link with Kawasaki,” Lamariey says. “They have a lot of information and are working to get the best out of the bike. So we made the choice to go for the best product.”
The 2014 modifications do not stop there. “We also have the carbon sub-frame as something new and we are looking at the weight of the bike as much as possible. Last winter we saved about two kilos; quite a lot.”
“We had the first 2014 base in Qatar and then added some improvements in Italy [round four],” he continues. “Mainly for safety reasons because at the flyaways you can be limited on the technical side by the quantities of things you can have at your disposal.”
Kawasaki also has a prototype radiator with an external reserve box. Lamariey was guarded about the purpose – and wasn’t keen for any close-up photos to be taken – but explained that it was one of the areas in which they can exploit the fairly liberal rules in GP for manufacturers to fashion and try new ideas. “We’ve worked on the cooling and have a radiator made on demand and only for us,” he went on record as saying. “It is made in Europe with an Italian supplier. We have the shape and material that we want.”
Paulin has commented to press that Monster Energy KRT crew are now at their best level yet in what is his third season with the team and in MXGP. The KX450F is part of that positive evolution process and neutral race fans will be hoping that the Frenchman and Qatar GP winner can continue to challenge reigning champion Tony Cairoli and take the ’14 title fight to the wire. We asked Lamariey if he could give an estimation as to the size of the progression they have made with the shimmering green 450 for this year.
“A percentage is difficult,” he replied. “We worked on efficiency, and I would say the Qatar bike – over the 2013 model – is an improvement between 10-20%. We had a good base and our weakness were starts in 2013. We have already made five holeshots; not so bad.”