HOPKINS REMAINS CONFIDENT AFTER LATE IMPROVEMENT Kawasaki's John Hopkins remains confident of a strong result in tomorrow's inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix, but admits that qualifying only 16th fastest during this afternoon's hour-long timed...
HOPKINS REMAINS CONFIDENT AFTER LATE IMPROVEMENT
Kawasaki's John Hopkins remains confident of a strong result in tomorrow's inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix, but admits that qualifying only 16th fastest during this afternoon's hour-long timed session has left him with a lot of ground to make up from the start.
Conditions at the Indianapolis circuit today couldn't have been more different to the rain soaked practice sessions the MotoGP riders had to endure yesterday. Warm and sunny weather greeted the riders on arrival at the circuit this morning, with only a strong headwind on the main straight detracting from the almost perfect conditions.
For Hopkins and West it meant learning the 4.216km circuit all over again, but this time on slicks and with a dry set-up on their Ninja ZX-RR machines. Hopkins struggled to find a workable set-up during this morning's hour-long practice session, but a change to a different compound front tyre for the qualifying period, after discussions with his crew, allowed the Anglo-American to slash his time by over half a second in just one lap. With only 20-minutes of the hour-long session remaining, Hopkins was forced to focus his attentions on using qualifying rubber, and ended the day in 16th position on the grid.
Anthony West was bitterly disappointed after topping the time sheets in yesterday's practice, to finish qualifying today in just 19th position on the grid. The 27-year-old Australian has found it difficult to change direction smoothly around the tight and twisty Indiana circuit in the dry, which was compounded by a lack of rear-traction aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.
West will certainly be reviewing the data from his machine with his crew to try and find improvements to his dry set-up overnight, although the fact that tomorrow's weather forecast promises rain - and lots of it - may well play into the wet weather wizard's hands.
John Hopkins - #21 - 16th - 1'42.673
"It was like starting all over again today, as the conditions were very different to the rain we had yesterday. I was struggling a lot this morning, as well as most of the afternoon, and our lap time was not anywhere near where we needed it to be. Then with 20-minutes of the afternoon session to go, we tried a front tyre that we don't tend to use that often on our bike and in just one outing we reduced our lap time by half a second. Unfortunately we had to switch our focus then to our qualifying runs, and this left us just 16th on the grid. We have a few ideas for warm-up and it will be very important for us to get a good start to the race tomorrow. I'm actually pretty confident, as well as incredibly motivated, because this is my home round and there are a lot of American fans here. I just hope that the weather situation is consistent throughout the entire day, as this will be important while we're trying to improve our setting."
Anthony West - #13 - 19th - 1'43.931
"To go from first to last in one day is very frustrating for us and it's certainly not where we hoped to be. The track here is quite difficult to master, as the grip levels at different parts of the circuit are inconsistent and this makes setting up the bike quite difficult. I was struggling to get the machine to change direction and this track requires a lot of momentum through the tight turns, which we just couldn't achieve today. We also suffered with a lack of rear traction, a problem that haunted us earlier in the season. We have a lot of work to do overnight on our dry set-up, but if it rains tomorrow then we know from yesterday's times that a good result could well be on the cards."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"In wet conditions our machine worked exceptionally well here, but in the dry we certainly have more work to do in order to find a more competitive package. John found a big improvement with a different tyre option during qualifying this afternoon and Anthony also reduced his lap time throughout the two sessions today, so the situation is improving, but it wasn't enough to put us in better positions on the grid. We need to analyse the data from today and we'll make a plan for tomorrow's warm-up, although it's not yet clear what the weather might bring during the race."