SEASON FINALE OPENS WITH WET WEATHER AT VALENCIA The 2008 MotoGP season finale got to a very wet start at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia today, with Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West concluding the opening practice sessions in 14th...
SEASON FINALE OPENS WITH WET WEATHER AT VALENCIA
The 2008 MotoGP season finale got to a very wet start at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia today, with Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West concluding the opening practice sessions in 14th and 15th positions respectively.
Following the blistering heat of Malaysia last weekend, conditions today could not have been any more of a contrast, with low track temperatures and heavy rainfall present throughout the two, hour-long sessions. Both Hopkins and West found it difficult to negotiate the Valencia circuit aboard their Ninja ZX-RR race machines, as a super-slippery track surface made grip difficult to predict at maximum lean angles.
The two MotoGP pilots suffered with similar troubles, as rear traction issues were compounded by the slick conditions. The predominantly left-handed circuit caught out many of the Kawasaki duo's rivals in each of the crash-filled practice stints, despite the rain faltering late on in the afternoon session.
Hopkins, who spent some time evaluating new engine components today, is hoping that with the predicted weather improvements over the weekend, he will be able to make further progress in preparation for the final race of the year. The 25-year-old Anglo-American was struggling to get the bike over at full lean, as the wet and cold conditions made it incredibly difficult to get heat into the rear tyre of his machine.
West, who will campaign the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR for one final time this Sunday, was also troubled with rear traction issues, particularly on corner entry. The 27-year-old struggled to find the drive and stability he needs when cornering. West is hopeful that set-up changes to his machine overnight will improve the situation for tomorrow's qualifying session.
John Hopkins - #21 - 14th - 1'48.469
"Going from the heat of Malaysia to the freezing cold conditions of Valencia has been a huge change and the conditions on circuit were pretty bad today. In the first session there was a lot of standing water on track and a lot of the guys decided to sit out the final 15-minutes as the rain worsened. It was so bad I hardly got my knee down at all and I had a few big moments out there. We had a few problems this afternoon with one of our machines, but we have spent the entire time trying to improve the rear grip of the bike. We also evaluated new engine components, but because of the conditions the results aren't conclusive, as we weren't able to ride at the maximum today. They say the weather is going to improve, but either way we have some things to try should it carry on raining tomorrow."
Anthony West - #13 - 15th - 1'48.504
"It's incredibly slippery out there on track, and this is a circuit that is supposed to flow, so it's been quite hard work today. The bike feels quite nervous and I can't get hard on the brakes into the turns. Then, whenever I get on the throttle it just feels like I'm going to highside, although for some strange reason everything felt perfect at turn two. The conditions on circuit were not good, in fact many of the riders sat out the final part of the first session, so it's difficult to see where we're at. Hopefully things will improve for tomorrow as I'm determined to finish the final race of the year with a good result."
Fanali - Hopkins' Crew Chief
"The temperatures out on track have been quite low today as it's very cold and wet. We've tried some different settings to try to make the rear tyre work better in these conditions, and we've also worked on improving our engine braking along with the traction control to help John through the turns. We have progressively improved our lap time, but if we want to be competitive we need to refine our set-up further. The biggest difficulty at this track is there are quite a lot more turns to the left than to the right, so we need to check the data overnight and try to improve the grip level in the right-side of the tyre for tomorrow. We have also introduced new engine parts today, but we really need dry conditions to evaluate these properly."