Australian GP: Kawasaki race report

DETERMINATION PAYS DIVIDENDS FOR KAWASAKI PAIR A determined ride in today's Australian Grand Prix at Philip Island saw Anthony West take the honours as first Kawasaki rider across the line, as the 27-year-old Aussie held off hard charging ...


A determined ride in today's Australian Grand Prix at Philip Island saw Anthony West take the honours as first Kawasaki rider across the line, as the 27-year-old Aussie held off hard charging teammate, John Hopkins, to take a well deserved12th place in front of his home crowd.

Starting from 18th position on the grid, West was lucky to avoid becoming entangled in the incident that saw Dani Pedrosa crash out of the race on the opening lap. Spurred on by an enthusiastic and vocal Australian crowd, West soon reeled in his teammate before scything past to steal 12th place just four laps into the race. Despite intense pressure from Hopkins over the remaining 23 laps West's consistency, aboard a Ninja ZX-RR that was sideways out of almost every turn, allowed him to maintain the same position to the chequered flag.

John Hopkins also had to take avoiding action on the opening lap as Pedrosa out-braked himself and crashed, but the 25-year-old Anglo-American was quick to settle back into a steady rhythm on his Ninja ZX-RR, as he set about closing the gap to the group of riders battling for a top ten position ahead of him.

But the Kawasaki pilot's charge was halted when he started to lose edge grip on the left-hand side of his rear tyre early in the race, and was unable to drive hard out of the all-important left-hand corners leading onto the start finish straight. This lack of drive was enough to allow first Elias, and then teammate West, to get close enough to put in passes. Hopkins pushed hard to maintain a consistent pace to the end, eventually crossing the line in 13th place, less than half a second down on his teammate.

Kawasaki's engineers will use the interval between now and the next race in Malaysia, which takes place in just two weeks time, to identify and then eliminate the cause of the rear traction problems that hampered both riders throughout this weekend.

Anthony West - #13 - 12th Position

"I arrived at Phillip Island determined to put in a good performance in front of my home crowd this weekend, but the traction problems we had throughout practice and qualifying put paid to that. On the opening lap I could see Marco Melandri ahead of me, so I thought I’d give him a good look at the bike he'll be riding next year - from the rear, obviously. The traction problems meant I was sideways on the gas right from the start, but by just holding it wide open, letting the rear spin up and using my bodyweight to steer the bike, I was actually able to drive it out of the corners pretty good. After Marco the next target was John. I could see he was struggling for drive out of the turns even more than me, so it was just a case of closing the gap and choosing my moment. Fair play to John though; he kept me honest by pushing me all the way to the end. I thought he might try something on the last lap, but I'm glad he didn't because I wasn't going to let him get away with that! It wasn't the result I was hoping for this weekend, but I'm happy I did the best I could with what we had to work with."

John Hopkins - #21 - 13th Position

"At the start of the race I was just dodging and weaving my way around all of the crashes, but we managed to make up quite a few places by going around the outside of some of the other riders in the opening laps. I settled into a rhythm and tried to keep in touch with the group ahead, but a few laps in I lost the front at Honda corner and ran wide, which cost me a few positions. It was then basically a race with Anthony (West), and we did the best we could with what we had. He just had a little more drive out of the turns and was able to stay ahead, but we were both particularly struggling on the final turn of the circuit. I could see that Chris Vermeulen was catching us towards the end of the race, so we just pushed as hard as we could to maintain our position. I'm looking forward to the next round because we had a positive pre-season test at the Sepang circuit, and hopefully we can gain a better result there."

Bartholemy - Kawasaki Competition Manager

"This weekend has been very difficult for us. We knew it would be a tough race, as we were starting from the last row of the grid, but I am pleased that both riders managed to finish in the points. It's very clear that we need to improve our performance, not only for the end of this season, but also in preparation for next year. Both riders are suffering with similar difficulties and I think they both did the best they could with the package we gave them today. Our machines should be more suited to the Sepang circuit, and I hope we will have a better weekend there in two weeks time."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Chris Vermeulen , Marco Melandri , Anthony West , Dani Pedrosa , Phillip Island