Australian GP: Kawasaki preview

KAWASAKI HEAD DOWN UNDER FOR AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West arrive in Australia determined to build on the promising results last time out in Japan, with West in particular looking to put on a good show at his...

KAWASAKI HEAD DOWN UNDER FOR AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West arrive in Australia determined to build on the promising results last time out in Japan, with West in particular looking to put on a good show at his home race after a difficult season so far.

West made his Grand Prix debut in 1998 at Phillip Island with a wildcard entry in the 125cc World Championship, but has had mixed fortunes at his home circuit in the intervening years. The Kawasaki pilot finished second in the 250cc race in 2003, but the following year saw him crash at more than 260 km/h at the infamous turn one. In 2007 West qualified the Ninja ZX-RR on the fourth row of the grid and finished the race in twelfth place, after a race-long battle with Carlos Checa, Chris Vermeulen and Colin Edwards.

The 27-year-old Australian, who hails from Queensland's Gold Coast, made further steps forward with the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR ahead of last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, and is hopeful that these changes will allow him this weekend to break into the top ten for the first time since the Czech Grand Prix over a month ago.

Hopkins, who made a return to the top ten at Motegi, is looking to build on his recent strong performance aboard his upgraded, Bridgestone-shod Ninja ZX-RR. The 25-year-old Anglo-American made important set-up improvements using a different specification front tyre competitively for the first time in Japan, where he also received an engine upgrade. The Kawasaki pilot is looking to further refine both this weekend at Phillip Island.

Like his Kawasaki teammate, Hopkins has had mixed results around the challenging 4.445km Phillip Island circuit in the past, but is looking to finish his injury-filled season off with a run of strong results, whilst developing his race machine for 2009.

The Phillip Island circuit, located close to the coastline in one of the most southerly parts of Australia, is renowned for its unpredictable weather. It's also known to be tough on tyres, as it is made up of fast, sweeping turns and has a relatively abrasive surface. In fact, the track features some of the highest speed corners on the MotoGP calendar, and the 27-lap race is incredibly demanding on both machine and rider.

Anthony West - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13

"It's good to be back home in Australia, and I'm looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd again. I like the Phillip Island circuit a lot, but it's one that hasn't always been kind to me in the past. Hopefully I'll be able to turn that around this weekend, and put in a good performance for the Aussie race fans. We made quite a lot of progress with the bike in Japan last week, and I hope we'll be able to make further improvements to suit the unique characteristics of this circuit. The bike needs to work well around the high-speed turns here, especially the two left turns coming onto the start finish straight, where you need to keep the throttle pinned if you want a good lap time. A lot of my friends and family are making the trip down to the Island from the Gold Coast and it will be great to have their support. I just hope I can give them, and all the Aussie fans, something to cheer about on Sunday."

John Hopkins - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #21

"I've not always had the best results at Phillip Island in the past, so it's certainly a track where I'd like to do well. We made a lot of changes to the bike in Japan and although the race result wasn't what I'd hoped for, we definitely had a strong pace. We were able to lap a lot more consistently and it was definitely a big improvement on our recent races. I really want to achieve some strong results in the last few rounds of the season, while also focussing on developing our Ninja ZX-RR ready for the 2009 season."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Carlos Checa , Colin Edwards , John Hopkins , Chris Vermeulen , Anthony West , Phillip Island