KAWASAKI DUO SEE IMPROVEMENTS AT LE MANS Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West finished today's opening practice sessions ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix in ninth and 16th positions respectively, after focussing on refining machine set-up...
KAWASAKI DUO SEE IMPROVEMENTS AT LE MANS
Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West finished today's opening practice sessions ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix in ninth and 16th positions respectively, after focussing on refining machine set-up during the two, one-hour track sessions.
Hopkins spent most of the two practice sessions perfecting the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR to suit the stop-start, hard braking nature of the 4.18km Bugatti circuit. The Anglo-American ran through different tyre options with Bridgestone, lapping quickly and consistently, despite some difficulties with feeling in the front end of his machine.
Hopkins remains confident ahead of tomorrow, where he is sure that with some further refinements in the set-up of his Kawasaki, he can improve his lap time significantly. The 24-year-old Kawasaki pilot ended the day with a best time of 1'35.133, less than a second off fastest man, Dani Pedrosa.
Teammate West ended the practice sessions in more confident mood compared to previous rounds. The Australian, who makes his Le Mans debut on a MotoGP machine this weekend, feels more comfortable on his Ninja ZX-RR, after Kawasaki's engineers made minor changes to the power delivery of their 800cc, inline four-cylinder engine.
While he was unhappy with his finishing position today, West admitted he was able to lap more consistently and he remains confident that, tomorrow, he can improve on his final lap time of 1'35.877. The 26-year-old is aware of the particular areas of the track where traction issues are slowing him down, and the Kawasaki pilot is hoping that with the data collected today the team can continue making improvements during tomorrow's qualifying session.
John Hopkins - #21: 9th -- 1'35.133
"Le Mans is a track I quite enjoy and although the position isn't where we want to be, I'm feeling confident. We've used the practice sessions today to find a tyre combination that works well in both the front and rear. At the moment we're struggling a little bit with feeling in the front-end, which is costing us time. It's nothing particularly major as we can lap quickly and consistently, but I feel that an improvement in this will reduce our lap time considerably. We have a few ideas on how to achieve this and tomorrow we'll be aiming for a good qualifying position."
Anthony West - #13: 16th -- 1'35.877
"I'm feeling a little bit more confident here today than I have in previous rounds. The circuit seems to suit our bike, as there are not so many turns here where the bike is leaned over for long periods of time, and this is where we've experienced problems in the past. We've made some alterations to my Ninja ZX-RR and I feel a lot more comfortable as I can use the bike's strength on corner entry to put together reasonable lap times. The position isn't anywhere near where we want to be, but I can lap consistently and this is a good sign as we were unable to do this before. There are two longer corners in the track where we need to improve traction, but we have some direction now and I hope we can continue with this tomorrow."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"Today we have been trying many tyre combinations that suit different conditions, as the weather here in Le Mans is very changeable. With John we have found a good set-up, although this needs to be refined in order for him to achieve the position we are looking for. Anthony is making steps forward and his lap times are much more consistent. We have altered the power delivery of his machine, which has made a big difference and the aim is to build on this further during tomorrow. We still have a lot of work to do but I am confident we can gain a good result here."