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SBK, Bassani, Kawasaki and the switch from Ducati: at what point is the apprenticeship?

Crew Chief Duinker: "Kawasaki is a bike that's entirely opposite from the Ducati. You have to be tough and aggressive. Axel is a warrior and has the mentality we need, knowing that, if it's not this year, it'll be next year."

SBK: Bassani, Kawasaki and the switch from Ducati: at what point is the apprenticeship?

A new adventure, where there's everything to discover and, consequently, they need time to learn and understand. But Axel Bassani wants to tailor the Kawasaki he inherited from Rea to himself, and Marcel Duinker is helping him in this new challenge. After the last experience shared with Lowes, the crew chief has started over with the rider from Venice, fresh from his commitment with Motocorsa's Ducati.

The pair got to know each other in recent months, creating a new working relationship and charting a course to follow. During the Barcelona weekend, we intercepted Duinker and exchanged a few words about what Axel is facing.

"Right from the start, I knew that Axel has a winner," the crew chief began. "One step at a time, we built a very good relationship, using simple words and trying to chart a forward path. I had some indications about him concerning his command of the English language but, in the end, I've worked with several riders over the years and, I must say, the relationship is optimal. Axel is a rider who can make himself understood."

Marcel, how difficult is this switch to Ducati?
"Obviously, the Kawasaki is entirely different than the Panigale. Besides the switch from the V-engine to the in-line 4, the bike has a unique character, and you need experience. We've seen this in the past with other riders, as well."

What does it take to learn?
"You have to be aggressive and tough when riding the Kawasaki. The great thing though is that, on a few occasions, I've seen Axel obtain the maximum potential from the bike, and I don't think it's at all easy. He's very talented, however, and I'm convinced that, one step at a time, he'll be able to fit all the pieces together."

In Ducati, he had a lot of data, while he only has Lowes to interface with in Kawasaki.
"It's true, but we have a lot of past data to work on. I'm referring of course to that of a champion like Rea, which can come in handy at any time. From what we've seen in these months, Axel is very consistent and professional. He's a warrior on hte bike. I think he has all the ingredients to be fast. He's only been racing in the Superbike for a few years, but he's demonstrated that he has the experience of someone who's been here for a long time."

Incidentally, there is also Melandri with him.
"Melandri is a rider who focuses a lot on details, and I think he's proven that in the past by winning and getting strong results in this paddock. He's helping us on the electronics and more, putting all the experience he has gained in the field at our disposal. In recent seasons, we're seeing more and more people supporting the riders, such as a coach, and Marco is helping us out."

Many hope to see Bassani competitive on the bike, Axel for one.
"Of course, and I can understand that. But we haven't set ourselves a deadline by which we have to reach a result, because it wouldn't make sense. The path with Axel is a new one, which started recently. From Kawasaki's side, there's a long-term program, with the goal to, first of all, confirm progress without having pressure. Axel is a warrior and has the mentality that's needed for such a challenge, knowing that, if it's not for this year, it'll be next year. I, however, am convinced that, step by step, we'll get there."


Translated by Leila Myftija

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