Valencian GP: Kawasaki race report

TOUGH RACE TO END TOUGH SEASON FOR KAWASAKI Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West faced a tough test at the Valencia circuit today, ending their 2008 MotoGP world championship campaign with 14th and 17th positions respectively in today's 30...

TOUGH RACE TO END TOUGH SEASON FOR KAWASAKI

Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West faced a tough test at the Valencia circuit today, ending their 2008 MotoGP world championship campaign with 14th and 17th positions respectively in today's 30 lap race, after race day conditions differed greatly compared to practice and qualifying.

Hopkins got a good start from 14th on the grid and rode spectacularly around the outside of his rivals into eighth position by the end of lap one. The 25-year-old Anglo-American set his sights on hunting down the group ahead, but early on in the race was troubled with cornering issues aboard his Ninja ZX-RR. Despite his best efforts and some gritty riding, Hopkins lost a place on lap four to Shinya Nakano, and was then unable to hold off a succession of attacks as he struggled to find grip at the 4.005km Valencia circuit.

A lack of dry set-up time and the hotter race day conditions both contributed to the Kawasaki racer's difficulties in the race. As the rear grip began to drop off, and drive out of the turns more difficult to find, Hopkins was unable to defend against a determined attack by Chris Vermeulen on the final lap and had to settle for 14th position at the chequered flag

West, who campaigned his Ninja ZX-RR for one final time today, also got a good start and took four positions into the first turn. But with only a brief outing to set his machine up on slick rubber in yesterday's qualifying, the 27-year-old Australian also suffered with rear traction issues early on in the race.

West was frustrated as the rear traction available from his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR, using a tyre combination he is not confident was the right choice for today’s race, rapidly deteriorated and he slowly slipped down the standings to cross the finish line in 17th position.

Now that the 2008 MotoGP World Championship season has drawn to a close after 18 events held across four continents around the globe, tomorrow's testing at the Valencia circuit will mark the start of preparations for the 2009 season for the Kawasaki Racing Team.

John Hopkins - #21 - 14th Position

"After getting such a good start to the race it became obvious we were going to be fighting a losing battle, because I soon realised I couldn't get the bike turned well enough. This also added to the wear on the rear tyre, and the season-long traction issues we've suffered were evident again, so after the first few laps I had to fight for every position I could. We knew it was going to be a tough one because, after all of the rain this weekend we've had very little dry set-up time, but I was really hoping for a top ten finish. I'm also incredibly disappointed as my crew chief, Fiorenzo Fanali, is retiring after this race and I really wanted to get one final good result for him. The 2009 season starts with testing tomorrow and we have to start finding solutions to our problems so we can be competitive right from the word go next year."

Anthony West - #13 - 17th Position

"What a frustrating end to a frustrating season. I wanted to finish my last race with Kawasaki as close to the top ten as I could, but a questionable tyre choice put paid to that today. Rear grip dropped off sharply within a few laps, and it was like riding dirt track for the rest of the race with the bike sideways everywhere. This season didn't turn out as I was expecting, and while I'm sure people are pointing the finger at me for this, I leave here knowing that I did my best and that I couldn't do any more. I knew I'd finish the season close to my teammate in the championship standings, what I didn't expect was for us both to be so close to the bottom of the points table. I'd like to thank Kawasaki for giving me this chance in the premier class; it hasn't been the easiest time, but the experience will definitely stand me in good stead as I move onto pastures new in 2009."

Bartholemy - Kawasaki Competition Manager

"Today's race was a tough ending to a tough season for the Kawasaki Racing Team. Conditions out on track were very different to those in practice, but both riders suffered with the issues that have plagued us throughout this year. The final result for this season is certainly not one I was expecting. I was confident that with the undoubted calibre of our riders, combined with the professionalism of everyone involved in Kawasaki's MotoGP project, we would be regularly finishing in the top ten, or even top five. Unfortunately it didn't work out as we were expecting and this is something we hope the all-new for 2009 bike will address. I'd like to thank Anthony for all his hard work this year and, together with everyone in the team, wish him the best of luck for next season."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Anthony West