HOPKINS CONFIDENT AFTER SECOND DAY AT SEPANG Kawasaki's John Hopkins continued to improve his lap time during the second day of testing at a blisteringly hot Sepang circuit. The Anglo-American was just over half-a-second off the fastest time ...
HOPKINS CONFIDENT AFTER SECOND DAY AT SEPANG
Kawasaki's John Hopkins continued to improve his lap time during the second day of testing at a blisteringly hot Sepang circuit. The Anglo-American was just over half-a-second off the fastest time today, but is confidently predicting that this gap will be much reduced once he gets the chance tomorrow to dial in further the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR.
Hopkins's Kawasaki teammate, Anthony West, will be looking for the same level of improvement on the final day of testing, after a successful morning that saw his lap time tumbling with every run aboard the 2008 Ninja ZX-RR.
Both riders worked their way through an intensive tyre testing program with Bridgestone while conditions were good this morning, before switching back to working on the set-up and evaluation of chassis and suspension components as track temperatures soared and grip levels dropped during the afternoon session.
West identified a front tyre and rim combination that gave him more confidence in the front end of the bike, as he pushed to close the time gap on his more experienced teammate. The Australian will continue with the same combination tomorrow when he hopes to see another significant improvement in his lap time, before the Kawasaki Racing Team head for his home circuit in Australia for the next round of testing.
Hopkins focussed mainly on evaluating rear tyres that may prove suitable for use at the first race in Qatar, which is likely to be run under similar conditions as experienced today in Sepang. The 24-year-old Kawasaki rider ended the test confident that the tyre data acquired today would allow Bridgestone to identify the best combination of construction, profile and compound for the unique demands of the Qatar circuit.
The final day of testing tomorrow promises to be a punishing one for both riders, with race simulation runs scheduled in the morning and further work on machine set-up planned for the afternoon.
John Hopkins - 55 Laps - Best Time 2'01.874
"We started out this morning by running through some tyres that Bridgestone have brought here, basically to try and identify what will work for the first race of the season in Qatar. It was a useful test, I felt pretty comfortable on the bike and I think it will stand us in good stead come Qatar. We've also continued the evaluation of the two chassis options we have here, and at the moment we've gone with the one closest to the 2007 spec. The other chassis option has some positive points, but we need to do some more work on a few areas before we go with it on the race bike. The engineers will now take this chassis back to Japan, together with the data on it that we've collected, and I guess we will be testing further revisions pretty soon. Tomorrow I'll do a long distance run, and then we'll be looking to refine the set-up of the bike to suit my personal preferences, which I'm looking forward to."
Anthony West - 66 Laps - Best Time 2'02.579
"This morning we kept the changes to a minimum and I just concentrated on improving my feeling with the bike, and also my lap time. I managed to improve with each run, so I was pretty happy about that. We also tested a new front tyre with a slightly different profile than I've used before, and there was some improvement in the front end feeling as a result. This afternoon we tried to do some rear tyre testing, but it was difficult to get a good feel for the different tyres, because the track lost a lot of grip as the surface temperature went up; I just ended up sliding around everywhere. Tomorrow will be a hard day, because I'm scheduled to do a race simulation, but it will be interesting to see how my lap time averages out over a long run."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"Both riders have mainly focussed on tyre testing with Bridgestone today, with positive results from some of the new front and rear options that we've tested for the first time here in Sepang. Anthony found a front that gave him more confidence, and John identified some improvements on turn in with a couple of the rear tyres. We've also continued with comparison tests of the two chassis options we have here, and we now have a pretty clear direction for future development. Finally, we've continued refining the engine braking system on the bike with some success, but we know there are further improvements to be had in this area."