DIFFICULT DAY FOR KAWASAKI AT PHILLIP ISLAND Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West remain optimistic ahead of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, despite finishing today's qualifying in 16th and 18th positions after both suffered with cornering...
DIFFICULT DAY FOR KAWASAKI AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West remain optimistic ahead of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, despite finishing today's qualifying in 16th and 18th positions after both suffered with cornering difficulties aboard their Ninja ZX-RR race machines.
Hopkins made a host of set-up changes ahead of the final free practice this morning, but like many other of the riders out on track in the early session, the Kawasaki pilot was caught out on cold tyres and crashed without injury after losing the front of his Ninja ZX-RR. Undeterred, Hopkins completed 25 laps in this afternoon's qualifying stint to continue improving the balance of his machine, to aid cornering around the Australian track. The 25-year-old Anglo-American was struggling particularly at the notorious final corner, through which riders must carry maximum speed onto the start-finish straight.
Despite qualifying in 16th place on the grid, Hopkins and his crew have some ideas on how to find a more workable set-up for his machine for the 27-lap race, and intend to make further changes in tomorrow's warm-up session.
West also endured a difficult day at the Phillip Island circuit, as he qualified in 18th position for his home Grand Prix. The 27-year-old Australian has found it difficult to gain feedback from his race machine, resulting in a lack of traction that has hindered his speed out of the turns.
West made various set-up changes, which offered him an improved front-end feeling, but the Kawasaki pilot was still unable to find the grip level in the rear of his machine, both on race and qualifying rubber. Although frustrated, West is hoping that overnight he, along with his crew, can make significant improvements for tomorrow's race.
John Hopkins - #21 - 16th - 1'31.157
"Our ultimate goal today was to find a more workable setting, particularly in the balance of the machine, as we were pushing the front going into the turns, and losing the rear on the way out. We have been trying to find a better direction and although we've made some improvements, they weren't significant enough to give us a good lap time. We had a small crash this morning when I lost the front going into Honda Corner, because in the cold conditions we just didn't have enough heat in the tyre. We need to find better turning and stability on the machine to make use of the grip available. Out of the whole lap I'm losing a lot of time at the final turn, and this is definitely the main area that needs improvement for tomorrow."
Anthony West - #13 - 18th - 1'31.995
"We made a lot of changes today to try and get more feeling from the bike, and although we found some improvement in the front-end, we haven't made enough steps for the overall machine feedback. The bike doesn't feel particularly stable in the turns, and on a qualifying tyre the situation is no different, because I can't feel the grip level that's there. This is frustrating because obviously this is my home Grand Prix and I really wanted to do well, but so far we haven't managed to achieve the lap times we need. I'm not overly confident for tomorrow, but hopefully overnight we can find something that will make a significant difference for the race."
Yoda - Kawasaki Racing Director
"At Motegi we made some steps forward, especially with John as he found improvement in the braking stability and acceleration of the machine. Both riders had similar lap times, and we expected to continue our progress here at Phillip Island. However, the package we have at the moment is not working well when cornering here, particularly in the lower-speed turns, and both riders are suffering with similar difficulties. We have tried some different set-up changes to find a solution to this, but we particularly need to improve how the bike handles from the braking point to the apex of the turn. At present the machine is running wide into the turns, so the riders have to apply the throttle later, resulting in the rear spinning, and this is obviously where they are losing a lot of time. We will work overnight to try to find a better solution to this for tomorrow, although we do already have some direction in how to improve this situation."