TOP TEN RETURN FOR HOPKINS FOLLOWING KAWASAKI IMPROVEMENTS John Hopkins showed today that an enforced seven week lay-off through injury hasn't blunted his skills, as he made his racing return aboard an evolution version of Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR...
TOP TEN RETURN FOR HOPKINS FOLLOWING KAWASAKI IMPROVEMENTS
John Hopkins showed today that an enforced seven week lay-off through injury hasn't blunted his skills, as he made his racing return aboard an evolution version of Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP racer during today's opening practice sessions at Brno.
Despite a fall in each of the one-hour sessions, Hopkins felt confident that the revised specification engine and chassis components added to his Ninja ZX-RR for this weekend have made a vast improvement. The 25-year-old Kawasaki pilot finished the day eighth overall at the 5.403km Brno circuit, after posting his fastest time on his last lap.
Hopkins will work with his crew overnight to find an improved setting for a better front-end feeling from his Kawasaki, as it was this lack of feedback that caused the Anglo-American to crash in both sessions. Hopkins is feeling confident ahead of tomorrow's qualifying and is looking forward to capitalising on the upgrades that the Kawasaki engineers have made to his machine during the summer break.
Teammate Anthony West was disappointed not to have made more of an impression as he suffered with turning and stability issues during both sessions today. The 27-year-old Australian was struggling to change direction smoothly and also complained of a lack of feedback from his Ninja ZX-RR. West's crew will look to find a solution to give the Kawasaki pilot, who finished the day 17th overall, more confidence in his machine and improve the turning performance to alleviate the problems he has faced today.
The weather could play a big part in tomorrow's proceedings as rain is forecast at the Czech circuit, which could mean tomorrow's final free practice and qualifying sessions are held in wet conditions.
John Hopkins - #21 - 8th - 1'58.830
"It's a shame we had two minor falls today; I just lost the front while finding the limit, but it was nothing major. The new engine parts have made a huge difference as the bike has more horsepower and improved power management. The chassis upgrade has helped us to turn better, especially into the corners, but we need to work on getting a little more feedback from the front-end. My knee is quite sore, especially when I have to put a lot of weight on it to change direction, but it's holding out well and I'm looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow to continue with what we've learnt today."
Anthony West - #13 - 17th - 2'00.621
"This is not exactly how I'd hoped to make a return following our recent summer break. The bike has plenty of grip, which is where we've suffered in the past, but I just can't get it to turn. Unfortunately this lack of stability means there is very little feedback from the machine when cornering and I don't have much confidence, which is reflected in our lap time. We've identified the areas where the problems are more significant and hopefully overnight we can find a solution to this. I think the weather will have a big part to play tomorrow, I just have to stay positive and hope we can turn it around in qualifying."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"Today we introduced some new specification engine parts and chassis components. Unfortunately John crashed in both sessions, so we need to improve the stability and feeling of his machine to enable him to push more. The overall review from practice is that these upgrades have made a big improvement; we just need to refine some areas further. Anthony has been struggling throughout the sessions with a lack of stability in the turns. We will look to find a solution to this, but it means he will have some catching up to do in tomorrow's sessions. The weather is quite unpredictable at this stage and I also think this could affect everyone's performance in qualifying."