Australian GP: Kawasaki Friday practice report

KAWASAKI CONFIDENT OF IMPROVEMENT AT PHILLIP ISLAND Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West remain confident of a strong performance during tomorrow's final practice and qualifying sessions ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, despite ...

KAWASAKI CONFIDENT OF IMPROVEMENT AT PHILLIP ISLAND

Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West remain confident of a strong performance during tomorrow's final practice and qualifying sessions ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, despite enduring a difficult opening day aboard their Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machines at Phillip Island.

The curse of Phillip Island's unpredictable weather stuck once again, with today's two free practice sessions held in completely different weather conditions. Both Kawasaki riders struggled with rear traction issues during this morning's hour-long free practice session, which was held in warm and sunny conditions. Hopkins and West made a number of changes to their Ninja ZX-RR machines to try and improve drive out of Phillip Island's fast and sweeping curves, and despite running out of time before making significant improvements to their lap times, both are confident that they have a clear direction with their dry set-up.

Lack of rear traction was also an issue for the two Kawasaki pilots during the wet second session, with Hopkins in particular struggling to get his rear tyre up to working temperature around the 4.448km Phillip Island circuit. Despite the problems, the 25-year-old Kawasaki rider posted the 14th fastest time of the session, but was disappointed to finish more than four seconds off the fastest time of the afternoon, set by former World Champion, Nicky Hayden.

Struggling with the same lack of rear grip as his teammate, West also had to contend with instability under braking for the two slowest corners on the circuit, MG Corner and the turn four hairpin. 12th fastest in the rain, the 27-year-old Australian was frustrated not to be able to take advantage of his wet weather ability to finish further up the timesheet. However, he remains confident that, whatever the weather brings tomorrow, today's sessions have provided a clear indication of the set-up changes needed for any conditions.

John Hopkins - #21 - 16th - 1'31.814

"Phillip Island requires something of a compromise with the set-up of the bike, as it needs to be easy to turn at high-speed, but then it also has to be stable through the sweeping turns where you're on the edge of the tyre for a long time. Today we got it a bit wrong and it was difficult to find traction exiting the turns this morning. We made some improvements during the session, but the rain in the afternoon meant we weren't able to progress any further. Although we also had some problems with rear grip in the wet this afternoon, I'm happy that we know exactly what we need to change for tomorrow, regardless of whether it turns out wet or dry."

Anthony West - #13 - 17th - 1'32.211

"We had the same problems we've had all season this morning, where the bike just wants to spin up as soon as you touch the throttle exiting the corner. It was frustrating, because I was losing so much time just on acceleration out of the turn, especially exiting the left-hander onto the main straight, where it's so important to carry as much speed as possible. This afternoon we had similar problems, but I was also struggling with the stability under braking, as the bike felt like it wanted to run on at the slower corners. It's frustrating, because normally I can count on being much further up the timesheet when it's wet, but it just wasn't possible today because of the issues with the bike. Having said that, with the two different sessions today, we're pretty fixed on how to improve the bike for tomorrow, whatever the weather might throw at us."

Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager

"Both riders have had similar issues with rear traction in the wet and the dry today, so we have a clear issue to address overnight. We need to look at the dry set-up to reduce the tendency of the rear tyre to spin up under acceleration. For the wet we need to make changes to both suspension and chassis settings so that John and Anthony can push the rear tyre hard enough to get it up to working temperature. Anthony also had some issues with the engine braking today, and this is something else we'll look at tonight. The track temperature is much lower than it was when we tested here at the beginning of the season, and that caught us out today."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , John Hopkins , Anthony West , Phillip Island