Japanese GP: Kawasaki qualifying report

HOPKINS ELEVENTH IN MOTEGI QUALIFYING Kawasaki's John Hopkins will start tomorrow's A-Style Grand Prix of Japan at the Motegi circuit from 11th place on the grid, after making further steps forward in race set-up aboard his Ninja...

HOPKINS ELEVENTH IN MOTEGI QUALIFYING

Kawasaki's John Hopkins will start tomorrow's A-Style Grand Prix of Japan at the Motegi circuit from 11th place on the grid, after making further steps forward in race set-up aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.

Hopkins made changes to his chassis set-up in this morning's practice session, particularly to suit a different specification Bridgestone front tyre that he is using for the first time competitively this weekend. The Kawasaki pilot was looking set throughout this afternoon's timed session to take his first top ten grid position since Brno, but a small mistake during his final run on qualifying rubber left him in eleventh place with a best time of 1'46.888s around the 4.8km circuit.

Hopkins is confident that he has a much-improved race pace with the adjustments he and his crew have made today, which has enhanced the braking stability of his Kawasaki race machine. The 25-year-old Anglo-American is looking forward to tomorrow's 24-lap race and is hoping to fight for a strong finish aboard his Ninja ZX-RR, which also features a new specification engine for this weekend.

Anthony West also made a vast improvement during today's two hour-long sessions, despite qualifying in 17th position on the grid. The 27-year-old Australian worked with his crew to identify the cause of the corner entry difficulties that have caused him great frustration in the last few races.

With the changes made to the Kawasaki racer's chassis and engine management settings in this morning's stint, West managed to slash a second off his lap time on a race tyre in the afternoon session. Unfortunately this improvement was not evident on qualifying tyres, but West is now concentrating on building his confidence, especially as he now feels much more comfortable aboard his Ninja ZX-RR.

John Hopkins - #21 - 11th - 1'46.888

"From yesterday to today we've definitely made a big improvement with the bike, particularly in the rear end grip and braking stability. The Bridgestone tyres are working well here, and we're now using the same specification front tyre that the other competitors have been on for some time. We had to make a few set-up changes to suit this, but my confidence is growing, so we're back on track and going in the right direction. I was hoping to be in the top ten, but I made a mistake on my last qualifying tyre and we didn't get the best run, which prevented us from achieving a higher starting position. However, it's a better result than we've had in the last few rounds and our race pace is strong, so we're looking for a good start, and I hope we can get away to fight for a good finish, especially as it's Kawasaki's second home event."

Anthony West - #13 - 17th - 1'47.669

"I'm obviously disappointed to have qualified so far down the grid, but we've made some progress today. I have been really struggling on corner entry when the machine is under heavy braking, because it locks up and makes it feel very unstable to turn. It's been particularly bad at this circuit, as it's very tight and there are a lot of corners that require heavy braking and hard acceleration. We made some changes from this morning to this afternoon and this made a huge difference in the way the bike handled on a race tyre, giving me a lot more confidence and the ability to run consistently good times. We just didn't have enough time to continue our progress, but it's the first time I've felt really comfortable on the bike for a while and I hope this will transfer into a better result for us in tomorrow's race."

Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager

"John made further steps forward today and we have made quite a few changes to his machine to improve his race pace. Although we are still some way off where we need to be in terms of lap times, John has found a good machine setting, particularly on a race tyre, which is definitely positive for tomorrow. With Anthony we made some chassis and engine management changes, which has given him the ability to run a more consistent lap time and improved his braking stability. He was a second faster on a race tyre in the second session in comparison with the first, and he feels more confident on the bike. We still need to develop the package further, but tomorrow is a long race and with what we have found

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Anthony West