Malaysian GP: Kawasaki Friday practice report

KAWASAKI RIDERS LOOKING FOR SET-UP AT SEPANG Kawasaki's Anthony West and John Hopkins both remain confident of a strong performance in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, despite enduring a difficult opening day at Sepang. Less than ideal track ...


Kawasaki's Anthony West and John Hopkins both remain confident of a strong performance in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, despite enduring a difficult opening day at Sepang. Less than ideal track conditions, unpredictable weather and set-up issues on their Ninja ZX-RR machines conspired against the two Kawasaki pilots today, leaving them short of the top ten positions both had targeted ahead of this weekend's race.

West spent both sessions today looking again for a solution to the rear grip problems than have plagued him all season, with the Australian continuing to complain that the rear tyre is too quick to spin up out of the turns and the bike is going sideways rather than forwards.

Set-up changes to his Ninja ZX-RR resulted in a slight improvement during this afternoon's practice, but the 27-year-old Kawasaki rider was unable to assess accurately just how much of an improvement had been made due to the frequent rain showers during the session.

After Hopkins struggled this morning with front-end issues on his Ninja ZX-RR his crew made major changes to the set-up of the bike in an attempt to give the 25-year-old Anglo-American more confidence in the front tyre. Unfortunately, the changes didn't have the desired effect, and Hopkins wasn't able to push for a fast lap time in between the frequent showers this afternoon.

Both riders will look closely at the data collected today in a bid to improve set-up ahead of tomorrow morning's final free practice session. Although disappointed not to have finished higher up the timesheet today, the fact that they were both fast here during winter testing at the start of the year means that Hopkins and West are confident of a significant improvement in lap times tomorrow.

Anthony West - #13 - 12th - 2'03.925

"Conditions weren't ideal this morning, as the track was really dirty and it took quite a long time to clean up before we had the level of grip needed to start pushing. As soon as we did start to get faster then I encountered the same problem that we've been having almost since the start of the season. On the gas coming out of the turns the bike just goes sideways instead of driving forward, and it's costing me a lot of time. We made some improvements for this afternoon, but I don't know exactly how much of an improvement because the showers that were working their way around the circuit didn't do much for confidence. When you're flat on the tank down the straight here, even a slight shower looks like torrential rain as it bounces off the screen! We will look closely at the data tonight and, hopefully, we can continue to make improvements tomorrow. On a positive note, I'm not last on the timesheet this week, so we've definitely made some improvement already!"

John Hopkins - #21 - 18th - 2'04.267

"We had to wait for the track to clean up before we could get down to evaluating tyres this morning, and then I had some problems with the front end of the bike. I was struggling to get the bike into the turns, because the front felt like it was going to tuck all the time. We made some major set-up changes this afternoon to counter the problem, but I think we maybe went in the wrong direction because we didn't see the improvement we were expecting. We will look at our options tonight, ready for tomorrow. I'm not so worried about the situation, as we know we can go back to the set-up we ran here during winter testing, when our lap times were pretty good, if necessary. I'm pretty confident we can go faster tomorrow, but we could definitely do without the showers that made this afternoon's session quite difficult."

Kaneko - Kawasaki Technical Manager

"Despite the issues with set-up today, both riders aren't that far off the pace here in Sepang. Anthony is losing rear traction mid-corner, and this is pushing him wide at the apex and losing him time, which he then tries to make up by opening the throttle hard when the bike is still leant over. We will make some changes to the balance of the machine for tomorrow, which should give Anthony better rear traction at the critical point of the corner and allow him the time to sit the bike up before he opens the throttle. With John we tried a quite different set-up on his bike this afternoon than he's used to. We can see from the data that this has given us some improvements, but the lack of feeling from the front-end means that John wasn't able to take advantage of the changes today. We will also change slightly the balance of his bike for tomorrow, to improve feedback from the front and to allow him to regain the confidence he needs to push for a faster lap time."

-credit: krt

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Anthony West