FRONT ROW FOR COMEBACK KING HOPKINS IN BRNO Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West will start tomorrow's Czech Republic Grand Prix from the front two rows of the grid after defying the treacherous wet conditions in today's qualifying to finish...
FRONT ROW FOR COMEBACK KING HOPKINS IN BRNO
Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West will start tomorrow's Czech Republic Grand Prix from the front two rows of the grid after defying the treacherous wet conditions in today's qualifying to finish in third and sixth positions respectively.
Hopkins has made an impressive return to the track after a three-race absence to score his first front row start of the season aboard his Ninja ZX-RR. The Anglo-American adopted a specific strategy at the Brno circuit, which allowed him to set the third fastest time in the early part of today's timed session.
Hopkins cleverly decided to use a softer compound Bridgestone wet tyre before conditions worsened around the 5.403km track and set his quickest time on lap six of 10. The 25-year-old MotoGP pilot is confident ahead of tomorrow's race, regardless of whether it is held in wet or dry conditions, as he believes the significant progress that the Kawasaki engineers have made over recent weeks will put him in a possible podium-challenging position.
West finished the day with a huge boost to his confidence, after a final lap surge around the rain-soaked track put him in sixth place overall. The 27-year-old continuously slashed his lap time throughout the hour-long qualifying session, despite conditions deteriorating with heavy rainfall.
The Kawasaki pilot was challenged with poor visibility, being held up by another rider and standing water around the circuit on his very final lap on a soft tyre, but the Australian was pleased to set his fastest time of the day to finish on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's race.
A massive 12 seconds separated the entire MotoGP field with Bridgestone-shod machines dominating proceedings. As a result, both Kawasaki riders are looking forward to tomorrow's 22-lap race come rain or shine.
John Hopkins - #21 -- 3rd -- 2'12.959
"I am very happy with that. We played it exactly right and took a gamble at the beginning of the session, which meant we could put in a decent lap time before it began to rain harder. I made a little mistake on my fastest lap, but I didn't want to push my knee too hard; today is only a small percentage of the weekend, so we took it easy in the latter part of the session. I am pleased for myself, but also for Kawasaki, as huge improvements have been made on the bike since I last rode it at Assen. The Bridgestone tyres are working really well too at this circuit and I feel confident for tomorrow whatever the conditions. Our aim is for a top five finish as I want to be realistic about what we can achieve, but we've definitely put ourselves in a great position for the race."
Anthony West - #13 - 6th -- 2'14.064
"I really didn't expect to improve my time on our last lap, so the final result has been a real confidence boost. The conditions worsened throughout the session and there was a lot of standing water around the circuit, so the bike was aquaplaning in a lot of places. I was struggling to see and I got held up on my final lap on a soft tyre, but we still managed to move up a further three places. We've made a lot of improvements to the set-up of the machine, and although I'm not really sure how this will fair in the dry, starting from sixth means we're in a strong position for the race."
Batholemy - Kawasaki Competition Manager
"John's return to racing this weekend in Brno has certainly been an impressive one. Despite missing the last three races he was immediately on the pace here in Brno and I'm confident his strong comeback from injury will continue with a good result in tomorrow's race, whatever the conditions. Anthony also did a great job in qualifying, and I hope his sixth position in today's treacherous conditions will go some way to boosting his confidence. We know he has the natural talent to compete at this level, and I think he proved that to himself today. Based on their performance today, and with the improvements Kawasaki have made to the Ninja ZX-RR since Laguna, I am confident of strong performances from both of our riders in tomorrow's race."