SUN SHINES ON KAWASAKI AT JEREZ The Spanish Grand Prix was held today at the Andalucian circuit of Jerez and both Kawasaki Racing Team riders, John Hopkins and Anthony West, showed off their skill and determination by managing seventh and ...
SUN SHINES ON KAWASAKI AT JEREZ
The Spanish Grand Prix was held today at the Andalucian circuit of Jerez and both Kawasaki Racing Team riders, John Hopkins and Anthony West, showed off their skill and determination by managing seventh and 13th positions respectively.
After a solid start from the third row of the grid, Hopkins was right in the thick of the action near the front of the field. Soon however, eventual race-winner, Dani Pedrosa, took off with a small selection of riders, leaving the #21 racer in an impressive group which stayed virtually intact until the end of the 27 lap event.
Showing no sign of pain from his groin injury and steering his Ninja ZX-RR expertly around the complex, 4.423km circuit, Hopkins battled to the last, seeing off Shinya Nakano and former Suzuki team mate, Chris Vermeulen, in the process. In a nail-biting finale, there was a last corner scrap for places with Loris Capirossi, James Toseland, and Andrea Dovizioso, and a delighted Kawasaki squad looked on as Hopkins got seventh spot, bringing his points total after two races to 13 and putting him ninth in the championship.
Further down the field, Anthony West was engaged in a race-long battle with Marco Melandri and Alex de Angelis. The 27-year-old Australian had also managed a good start, soon finding himself in 13th place after rising two positions during the first lap. By the end of lap three, he had progressed to 11th but lost that to 2007 world champion, Casey Stoner, who was having to catch up with the field after a an earlier error had forced him off the track.
West was then overtaken by Marco Melandri and the two diced for the rest of the race with West finally missing out on 12th but, like his team mate, he fought until the end, holding off a last gasp attempt to overtake him by de Angelis.
The Kawasaki Racing Team will now undertake further testing at Jerez before the championship continues on 13th April at Estoril, Portugal.
John Hopkins - #21 -- 7th
"We took a gamble on the race tyre we used today as we've only completed two timed laps on it previously and, thankfully, we made a good decision. I got a good start to the race but went backwards a few places on lap one. I was pushing hard to make a pass on lap four when I made a mistake and lost a few positions, so I gritted my teeth and pushed hard to stay with the group in front. I was riding consistently throughout the race but, by the time the last lap arrived, I was sliding quite a lot on the rear tyre. I was right with Toseland and Dovizioso when they had a coming together in the final part of the race, which left the door open for me to make up another position. Although I'm pleased with the result, we still have a lot of work to do. My injury is feeling much better and now we have some test time so can continue the process of getting the Kawasaki to the top of the field."
Anthony West - #13 -- 13th
"I gave it my all today and to be honest it was hard work. The result is a big improvement since the last round, although we're still struggling with a lack of rear traction. I got a good start to the race and I was trying to be as smooth as possible but, once the tyre went off, this became quite difficult. During my battle with Melandri, I felt much faster than him and I easily re-passed him on a few occasions. He managed to pass me in the last few laps and, despite pushing really hard, I just didn't have enough grip to get by him again. The front end of the bike felt good, entry and mid corner I was a lot faster than everyone else, but we're losing a lot of time in the exit of some corners so that is the area we need to focus on. Hopefully, with the test time we have, we can make another step forward before reaching Estoril."
Bartholemy - Kawasaki Competition Manager
"I am happy with the result today: both riders rode very hard and we have achieved much better positions than last time out. John is still not completely comfortable on the bike with his injury but both he and Anthony were fighting right until the end of the race. Jerez is not one of our favourite circuits, as we've struggled here in the past, but we have to work hard to try and improve even further before the next round. We now have some test time in the next two days where John will try some front tyre options and he will also be given the opportunity to ride the 'screamer' machine. Anthony and our test rider, Olivier Jacque, have similar riding styles so they will work together to try and find a better base setting to race with."