KAWASAKI'S HOPKINS ON THE PACE AT ASSEN Kawasaki's John Hopkins completed the opening practice day at the Assen circuit in a confident mood, having made further improvements to his Ninja ZX-RR and finishing in eighth place overall. Hopkins was...
KAWASAKI'S HOPKINS ON THE PACE AT ASSEN
Kawasaki's John Hopkins completed the opening practice day at the Assen circuit in a confident mood, having made further improvements to his Ninja ZX-RR and finishing in eighth place overall.
Hopkins was pleased to be challenging for top positions after finding a good machine setting. With only half a second separating second and 12th position on the timesheet, competition is already fierce on the opening day of the Dutch TT.
Hopkins is running an upgraded version of Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR engine this weekend and this, together with improvements in set-up over the last two races, means that Hopkins is confident of improving further his position ahead of the race.
The Anglo-American, who is slowly recovering from a back injury, spent the sessions today dialling in the new specification parts while running through many Bridgestone tyre options to identify the best race tyre option. The 25-year-old is looking forward to tomorrow when he will refine his machine set-up, as well as check the longevity of his chosen tyre with a race simulation.
Teammate West, who was feeling buoyant after a top ten finish last time out, has suffered with some difficulties around the 4.555km Circuit van Drenthe, finishing today's practice in 15th position. The 26-year-old Australian used the base setting he found at the British Grand Prix, but is struggling with chatter and a lack of exit grip at this complex track, which features many long, negative-camber turns.
West will work closely with his crew to make some alterations to the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR overnight and they hope to resolve the issues that have thwarted the Kawasaki pilot's progress today.
John Hopkins: #21 - 8th - 1'37.251
"It's been a good start for us today. We have had some new specification engine parts to test and these have definitely shown an improvement. We're running pretty much the same set-up as last time out and the Kawasaki seems to be getting around here really well. This afternoon we ran through every tyre we had allocated to us to make a decision for the race, because we are unsure of what the weather might do during tomorrow. The last tyre we tried worked really well and we'd like more dry time to do a long run to test it for durability. The competition is close and apart from Casey (Stoner), who is a long way ahead, we're running the same times as everyone else so I'm pretty happy with that. The injury is starting to feel better now and I'm really feeling confident ahead of qualifying tomorrow."
Anthony West: #13 - 15th - 1'38.413
"I'm a bit frustrated to be honest. I came here thinking that our set-up from Donington Park would be a good starting point for this circuit, but that's not been the case today. We've had some problems with chatter that we haven't had before, and we're struggling a little bit with drive out of the turns. But, my crew already have some ideas on how we can improve things tonight, which we'll check out during practice tomorrow morning. It looks like we've got a bit of a fight on our hands this weekend, but that's all part of the job. I really like the Assen circuit, so I hope we can get things sorted ready for qualifying tomorrow."
Kaneko: Kawasaki Technical Manager
"We've made some upgrades to John's engine since last weekend and the performance of his machine has definitely improved. He is also recovering well from his injury, which means we can make further steps forward in set-up. Anthony has used the base setting from Donington but the circuit here features a lot of banked turns and we need to find a better machine balance to help him enter and exit the corners quicker. The chatter problem arose later on in the session and we need to find a compromise to improve this. Anthony will also receive the engine upgrades to his machine for tomorrow's sessions, and we will continue work overnight to find a solution to his grip troubles."