TOUGH DAY FOR HOPKINS AS WEST SEES IMPROVEMENTS The opening day of practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Catalunya was one of mixed fortunes for the Kawasaki Racing Team, with Anthony West finishing 18th fastest, and John Hopkins setting the 14th...
TOUGH DAY FOR HOPKINS AS WEST SEES IMPROVEMENTS
The opening day of practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Catalunya was one of mixed fortunes for the Kawasaki Racing Team, with Anthony West finishing 18th fastest, and John Hopkins setting the 14th fastest time, despite a crash that sidelined him for most of the afternoon practice session.
Overnight rain meant that track conditions were far from ideal for the opening practice session this morning, but the situation had improved considerably by the time the MotoGP riders took to the track for their second hour of practice this afternoon.
Unfortunately, Hopkins was unable to take maximum advantage of the almost perfect conditions due to a crash just seven laps into the session, when he lost the front in the second part of the chicane. The 25-year-old Anglo-American managed to hold the bike up on his knee, but then lost the rear as he tried to recover front grip.
The Kawasaki pilot landed heavily on his back, leaving him battered, bruised and unable to ride again for the rest of the hour-long session. Hopkins will face a further examination in the morning by Clinica Mobile staff, who will then make the final decision as to whether he is fit to ride in tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.
West, although frustrated with his fastest lap time today, regained his confidence in the front-end of his Ninja ZX-RR after set-up changes eliminated the problems he encountered during last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
Together with his crew, the 26-year-old Australian will focus tomorrow on improving rear traction on corner exit, which is critical to a fast lap time at Catalunya, where the riders are accelerating hard for long periods on the side of the tyre.
John Hopkins - #21 - 14th - 1'44.043
"The first few laps on the bike this afternoon felt quite good, but when I started to push the front tucked going into turn two. When I gave it some gas to pick the bike up the rear came round on me and spat me over the highside. I landed heavily on my back, and it was painful enough to stop me riding again during the session. I had the injury checked out at the Clinica Mobile, but they have insisted that I undergo another examination tomorrow before they pass me fit to ride. If I'm allowed to ride then my back is going to be sore, but I'll just have to grit my teeth and do the best I can."
Anthony West - #13 - 18th - 1'44.865
"The position may remain the same, but we have made some progress with the bike today. We've all but eliminated the problems I had with the front-end of the bike in Mugello, and that's given me more confidence to push the front harder. Now we need to refocus on improving rear traction, which is so important here at Catalunya. So, while I'm not yet happy with my lap time or my position on the timesheet, I'm pretty pleased with the small steps we've made today, and I hope we can continue in this way tomorrow."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"Anthony has made a big step forward today with the front-end set-up of his machine. He feels more confident, although he's still suffering with rear grip troubles. It's important for us to try and improve these issues step by step, and we now must concentrate on giving him the ability to turn and exit corners more smoothly. The situation with John is unclear at this stage, but I am confident that, with the experience of his crew, we can make up for lost time during tomorrow's sessions if he's fit to return."