Valencian GP: Kawasaki preview

Valencia once again hosts the MotoGP season finale, and after a sweltering race in Sepang, both Kawasaki riders return to Europe determined to end their season on a high with a strong showing in the final race of the year. Valencia will be ...

Valencia once again hosts the MotoGP season finale, and after a sweltering race in Sepang, both Kawasaki riders return to Europe determined to end their season on a high with a strong showing in the final race of the year.

Valencia will be particularly poignant for Anthony West, who will make his last appearance for Kawasaki at the Spanish circuit. West, who was drafted in to the Kawasaki Racing Team as a replacement for the injured Olivier Jacque halfway through the 2007 season, will move on to pastures new next season and is determined to finish his time in MotoGP with one last good result.

But the 27-year-old Australian is adamant that he intends his absence from the MotoGP paddock next year to be only a temporary one. A strong performance in the final race of the year would be a fitting end to West's time in the premier class, but the Kawasaki pilot is under no illusions about how tough a race Valencia will be.

John Hopkins will continue to campaign Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR in 2009, but the 25-year-old Anglo-American is keen to draw a line under a difficult season with a good showing this weekend. Hopkins finished on the podium at Valencia just 12 months ago, and while a repeat performance this weekend may be just out of his reach, the Kawasaki pilot has a top ten finish clearly in his sights.

Valencia has hosted the MotoGP season finale for the last six years and it is certainly an atmospheric race, with around 150,000 fans heading down to see the final Grand Prix of the year.

The track is relatively slow-speed, and features a unique layout that was designed with the spectator in mind, as fans can see a full view of the entire circuit from any of the massive grandstands that ring the circuit.

The 14 turns, nine of which are to the left and five to the right, are tightly packed together, meaning that the riders spend most of the lap either cornering or changing direction. This requires a great degree of agility from their race machines, and tyres need to offer durability as they are placed under a lot of stress for the entire length of the race.

Anthony West - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #13

"It's been a tough season for me, and I haven't achieved the results that I was expecting going into my first full year as a factory rider. Next year I'll be racing elsewhere, but my MotoGP aspirations are far from over. 2009 will be a year to regroup, to try and impress in another championship and, if I can do that then there's no reason why I shouldn't make a return to MotoGP in the future. That's what I'm aiming for anyway. We've been missing something all year, and that means we been less competitive than we were expecting. Realistically it will be difficult to run at the front in Valencia, but a top ten finish should be achievable. I'm only one point behind Marco Melandri in the championship standings, and I hope I can pull in enough points in the last race to beat the rider who'll replace me at Kawasaki next season."

John Hopkins - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #21

"I'm looking forward to Valencia, as I seemed to click with the circuit last year and finished the race on the podium. It's been a long season, with a lot of ups and downs, and the injuries have held us back a lot. But, I want to finish my first year with Kawasaki on a high so I'll be pushing hard for a good result this weekend, although the podium may be slightly out of our reach this time around. The Valencia circuit demands a lot of a bike and rider, so set-up will be critical this weekend. If we can get the bike working well during practice and qualifying, I think we can be confident of a top ten finish in the final race of the season."

-credit: krt

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Series MotoGP
Drivers John Hopkins , Marco Melandri , Anthony West