KAWASAKI HEAD FOR THE PENULTIMATE ROUND AT SEPANG The fast and technical Sepang circuit plays host to the penultimate round of the 2008 MotoGP world championship this weekend, and both Kawasaki riders head for Malaysia with a top ten finish...
KAWASAKI HEAD FOR THE PENULTIMATE ROUND AT SEPANG
The fast and technical Sepang circuit plays host to the penultimate round of the 2008 MotoGP world championship this weekend, and both Kawasaki riders head for Malaysia with a top ten finish firmly in their sights.
John Hopkins is confident that his time on the Ninja ZX-RR, and the positive results achieved during pre-season testing around the Malaysian track, will be highly beneficial for this weekend's Grand Prix, as he hopes that the continued developments he has made throughout the year will come to fruition. The 5.55km circuit is one that the Anglo-American enjoys, and he is looking forward to finishing his debut season aboard the Kawasaki with two good results at Sepang and in the final race in Valencia.
Hopkins has spent the recent races focussing on development of the machine in readiness for next season, but the 25-year-old, who has begun to regain his confidence after a series of crashes, will be looking to return to his rightful place in the top ten aboard his Kawasaki race machine this weekend.
Anthony West is keen to replicate the pace he had at the Malaysian circuit in 2007 when, but for a mistake at the start of the race, he was on track to score a career-best MotoGP finish. The 27-year-old Kawasaki pilot qualified impressively on the second row of the grid, but was forced to surrender his fifth position in the race when he was penalised for lining up on the wrong grid position.
West finished ahead of his teammate last time out and, as the season draws to a close, the Australian is determined to continue the trend.
The Sepang circuit is an impressive facility and famous for its enormous grand stands with hibiscus (the national flower of Malaysia) style roofs. The track layout is one of the longest and most complicated on the MotoGP calendar, making it technically demanding for both machine and rider. The climatic conditions with temperatures around 38 degrees and humidity levels in excess of 75% represent a tough physical challenge for all riders, as do the unavoidable heavy bursts of rainfall during the course of the weekend.
Anthony West - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13
"The last week has been great because I went home straight after the race in Phillip Island and spent some time with the family. I've hardly been in Australia on the Gold Coast this year, as most of the races are in Europe, so it's certainly been nice to spend some time there in the good weather. I qualified well in Malaysia last year, although it's not a circuit I have specific feelings about either way. I made a stupid mistake in the race when I lined up on the wrong grid position, although we had been well on the pace all weekend and it could have possibly been the best result of the year for me. It would be great if I could repeat the pace I had in qualifying last season, but I feel a little unsure of what we can realistically achieve, as it's been tough going in the last few races. Hopefully the Malaysian heat will work to our advantage and we can put ourselves back in the top ten."
John Hopkins - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #21
"I've had a really good vacation since Phillip Island as Ashleigh and I stayed on to visit Sydney before driving up the Gold Coast. I've always wanted to see a bit more of Australia, and we've done the whole tourist thing by snorkelling and spending some time on the beach. I've also continued to train really hard, and it would be great if we can gain some strong results aboard the Kawasaki in the final two rounds. I'm now 100% focussed on Malaysia, especially as it's a track I enjoy. We had a positive test there in January before I got injured, and I'm confident that we've made some big steps forward since then. I think we can go there and be quite competitive, but it will also be nice to race in some warmer weather."