MIXED WEATHER AT MUGELLO PUTS KAWASAKI ON TOP Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West completed the two wet practice sessions at the Mugello circuit at the top of the field today, in first and third positions respectively on combined...
MIXED WEATHER AT MUGELLO PUTS KAWASAKI ON TOP
Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West completed the two wet practice sessions at the Mugello circuit at the top of the field today, in first and third positions respectively on combined times.
The first hour-long stint began with heavy rainfall around the 5.245km circuit, and both riders battled the elements in search of a comfortable wet setting aboard their Ninja ZX-RR race machines. However, as the session went on a significant dry line was evident out on track, which enabled riders to board their dry-weather prepared bikes.
Hopkins, although dissatisfied with his set-up, shot to the top of the leader board, nearly half a second quicker than his nearest rival. Teammate West, who spent much of the session at the top of the field, finished with confidence in third position.
The afternoon session saw no improvements in lap times following another rain shower, which left noticeable amounts of standing water around the circuit. In some places the Kawasaki pilots were forced to alter their lines to avoid aquaplaning their powerful 800cc machines when travelling at speeds in excess of 300kmh.
Hopkins used the time to try different variants in his wet setting, which showed minimal improvements, while West found it unusually difficult to master the rain-soaked track, suffering with a lack of feeling on his Bridgestone shod machine. Hopkins and West remain optimistic for tomorrow's qualifying, but both will be reliant on more stable weather conditions in order to find a better setting around the picturesque Italian circuit.
John Hopkins - #21: 1st - 1'54.053
"This morning started out very wet and we concentrated on our set-up to cope with the conditions out on circuit. We found something that worked quite well for us, and we gradually worked to a dry setting as the sun came out. On full slicks we found that there is quite a bit of work to do, although we did manage to finish the session at the top of the time sheets. In the second stint it was wet again and there was a lot of standing water around the circuit. We went in a different direction with our wet setting, which didn't really work for us. If it's going to be dry on race day I hope that tomorrow we have two dry sessions to set the bike up, if not then we'll go back to our original wet setting and work from there."
Anthony West - #13: 3rd - 1'55.021
"This weekend has got off to a bit of a strange start for me. The first practice session we went out on track with a full wet set-up and I didn't feel very comfortable on the bike. However, as the track dried out we switched to full slick tyres and I was able to put in some reasonable lap times, finishing third overall. It's usually the wet I'm more comfortable with and today it felt better in the dry! In the second wet practice session the bike was struggling to grip, particularly at the first corner and I couldn't get out of the turns well enough without the rear spinning, which cost us a lot of time. It's also pretty scary aquaplaning a bike at speeds of around 300kmh, so I had to change my lines in some places to avoid hitting the water at an angle. We need to find better traction and make the bike more stable, especially if it's going to continue raining."
Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager
"This morning the final times were achieved on slick tyres, but with only a small amount of dry track time it's difficult to judge where we are really. With the wet set-up we need to improve rear stability for both riders, as this is not helping their confidence to get out of the turns. Anthony felt good this morning, but the rain this afternoon made it difficult for him to get into the corners, and we are looking for a solution to make his machine more stable. The weather is going to have a big part to play here, and I hope that given more track time in the wet or dry we can progress further forward."