KAWASAKI HEAD FOR THE TWIN RING AND HOME The Kawasaki Racing Team head for their second home race of the season this weekend, as the MotoGP circus travels to Motegi for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, the 15th round of the 2008 world ...
KAWASAKI HEAD FOR THE TWIN RING AND HOME
The Kawasaki Racing Team head for their second home race of the season this weekend, as the MotoGP circus travels to Motegi for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, the 15th round of the 2008 world championship.
Opened in 1999, the 4.8km Twin Ring circuit, some 160km north of Tokyo, sits in a rural landscape and, as its name suggests, boasts not one but two tracks: a "super speedway" oval and the longer, snaking "road course", which the premier class teams will be tackling on Sunday.
Kawasaki's history at Motegi is a strong one, with Shinya Nakano taking third place, and Kawasaki's first ever MotoGP podium finish, in his home Grand Prix back in 2004, while Randy de Puniet went one better in 2007 to bring his Ninja ZX-RR home in second place.
Anthony West also put in a strong performance last season at the Twin Ring. Starting from sixth position on the grid, the Kawasaki pilot blasted his way to the front to lead the race on lap two, before a ride through penalty relegated him back to 14th position. Undeterred, West fought his way back through the field to finish an impressive seventh.
The 27-year-old Australian raced extensively in Japan aboard 1000cc machines during his younger years, so he knows the circuit better than most. West is hoping that this track knowledge will help him this weekend to overcome the set-up issues that have had such a negative impact on his race results so far this season.
Motegi hasn't been the luckiest of tracks for John Hopkins in recent years, but the 25-year-old Anglo-American is adamant that it is a circuit at which he enjoys racing, and one that will suit well the characteristics of his Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machine.
As a result, Hopkins heads for this weekend's Grand Prix of Japan determined to put on a good show for the thousands of Kawasaki fans at the track, most of whom congregate in the grandstand opposite pit lane and whose enthusiastic cheering every time the riders leave the pit box is loud enough to drown out the sound of their Ninja ZX-RR machines!
Anthony West - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13
"Motegi is a track that I know well, because I've done a lot of laps around there in the past. It's a very grippy circuit with an interesting layout. Last year we performed well there, particularly in qualifying, but a small mistake in the race meant we didn't quite achieve the result we were capable of. I know it's not going to be an easy ride for us this weekend, but it's Kawasaki's second home event, so I hope we can gain a strong result. I spent a few days in America after the Indianapolis race before we came over to Japan, and I've been training a lot, so we'll just have to see what the weekend brings."
John Hopkins - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #21
"Motegi has never been a circuit that's been kind to me, as I've always had a lot of bad luck there. Even last year, which was my best season so far, Motegi was definitely my worst round. However, maybe this is the year we can turn it around after all of the bad luck we've had with injury. It's a track I actually enjoy, the fans and atmosphere are all a lot of fun, and the circuit layout is good too. I've been in Japan for a while already and this is Kawasaki's second home round so it would be really nice if we can do well here. We are mainly concentrating on the development of the machine for next year, although it would be great to finish the final few rounds of 2008 with strong results. I've continued to train hard, and I managed to fit in a spot of sight-seeing in around Tokyo in the last week, so I'm now really looking forward to getting on the bike again and racing."