Japanese GP: Kawasaki Friday practice report

HOPKINS CONFIDENT OF IMPROVEMENTS AT MOTEGI Kawasaki's John Hopkins concluded today's free practice sessions at the Motegi circuit, which were held in mixed weather conditions, in confident mood after finishing in 12th position on his upgraded...

HOPKINS CONFIDENT OF IMPROVEMENTS AT MOTEGI

Kawasaki's John Hopkins concluded today's free practice sessions at the Motegi circuit, which were held in mixed weather conditions, in confident mood after finishing in 12th position on his upgraded Ninja ZX-RR.

Following this morning's wet practice, Hopkins utilised the dry time this afternoon to evaluate different Bridgestone tyre options from his allocation to find a suitable race tyre for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. The 25-year-old Anglo-American made an initial evaluation of the upgraded Ninja ZX-RR engine that the team received yesterday, as well as adjusting his chassis set-up to suit the 4.8km circuit.

Hopkins is confident that this new specification engine offers a smoother power delivery, although due to today's low track temperatures and damp conditions, the Kawasaki Racing Team will continue to make an analysis during the race weekend. Hopkins continued to improve his lap time throughout the hour-long afternoon session and ended the day in 12th position after posting a best time of 1'49.197s on his final lap.

The Kawasaki pilot is now hoping to make further refinements to his chassis setting, to improve manoeuvrability into the turns for tomorrow's qualifying session.

Despite improving his lap time throughout the day, Anthony West has suffered with handling problems aboard his Kawasaki race machine. The 27-year-old Australian finished this morning's wet stint in ninth place, but in the later session West struggled with a lack of grip and corner stability, ending the day in 17th position.

The Kawasaki racer will review the data with his crew overnight and is looking to make improvements to his chassis set-up in order to make more of an impact tomorrow around the Motegi track.

John Hopkins - #21 - 12th - 1'49.197

"There wasn't much we could do this morning in the wet, especially as the rest of the weekend is predicted to be dry, so we just refined our wet weather set-up. This afternoon the track was still damp in places, but we went out on slick tyres and evaluated all of our different Bridgestone tyre options to find something suitable for the race. We also had a revised specification engine to use and although it's not that different to what we had before, I can already feel that it's quite a bit smoother. The main area we are concentrating on is making improvements to our chassis setting as I'm struggling at a few of the hairpin corners to get the bike to turn and exit comfortably. However, we set our fastest time right at the end of the session on a tyre that had already done a lot of laps, which is positive. We'll make a few changes overnight and we're not that far off the rest of the field, so I'm feeling confident that we can work our way up the time sheets in qualifying."

Anthony West - #13 - 17th - 1'50.131

"Conditions at the circuit have been far from ideal today as this morning was wet, but it didn't really dry out totally for the afternoon session. This inconsistency in weather is not making our job any easier, and we need to make some big improvements to move ourselves further up the standings. We're struggling to get the machine into the turns, and we're also suffering with a lack of rear traction on corner exit. It felt slippery out on track, and although we've made quite a lot of changes to the chassis set-up, we haven't really found anything that's made a big enough difference to improve our lap time significantly. We will continue to work overnight with the data we now have and hopefully we can make more of an impression tomorrow."

Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager

"This morning we ran through our wet set-up and made some comparisons to the last race at Indianapolis. Then in the later session, although it was still damp, we used a dry setting, as the track was slowly drying out. Both riders came across similar problems with the machine stability and balance on corner entry, which is the main area where we will focus on making improvements for tomorrow. John has used a new specification engine today and although initial results are positive, it's difficult to really arrive at a conclusion as it wasn't completely dry out on track in either of the practice sessions."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Anthony West