THREE SUCCESSFUL DAYS IN SEPANG FOR KAWASAKI2007-11-17 15:10
The Kawasaki Racing Team head back to Europe today, after concluding three successful days of development testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
John Hopkins, riding the Ninja ZX-RR for only the second time at this test, was pleased to finish the final day an impressive third fastest overall, after quickly getting to grips with both the circuit and the characteristics of Kawasaki's MotoGP racer.
Hopkins identified a number of areas where the Ninja ZX-RR could be better matched to his distinctive riding style during his inaugural test aboard the bike immediately after the season ending Valencia Grand Prix. With less than a week between the Valencia and Sepang tests, the Anglo-American was impressed to discover that Kawasaki's engineers in Japan had already made improvements to the bike based on his initial feedback.
Modified clutch, engine and chassis components all but eliminated the chatter Hopkins experienced in Valencia, giving the #21 more confidence in the front end of the bike and allowing him to put in the fastest lap ever recorded aboard the Ninja ZX-RR on race tyres around the 5.548km Sepang circuit.
Hopkins was pleased with the positive progress made over the three day test, and happy with the working relationship developing between him and his new crew. The new Kawasaki pilot heads now for Southern Spain, and the final three-day test of the year, determined to use the technical and demanding Jerez circuit to perfect the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR ahead of the winter break.
Anthony West also declared himself happy overall with the Sepang test, although the 26-year-old Australian was a little disappointed not to have finished closer to his new team mate on the time sheet.
As well as evaluating new engine components, West used the three-day test to focus on finding a good base set-up on his Ninja ZX-RR; a process he was unable to accomplish this year after being thrown in at the deep end with the Kawasaki Racing Team mid-season.
Despite concentrating on set-up rather than looking for a fast lap, West ended the final day of testing eighth fastest overall, and just over half-a-second behind fellow Kawasaki pilot, Hopkins.
Like his team mate, West is also looking to end the year on a high-note, and he heads for his MotoGP debut at the Jerez circuit determined to move further up the timesheet during the final three days of testing before the winter test ban comes into force.
The Jerez test takes place 27-29 November and will be the final outing for the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2007.
Anthony West: #13 - Best Lap 2'02.659
"We haven't really been looking for a fast time over the three-day test, but instead concentrating on working our way through a number of different set-ups to give me some idea of how different changes affect the feeling of the bike. It's important work, and it's what I was missing this year, coming in as I did halfway through the season. But, even though I know that the work we're doing now is important for next year, I'm still a little disappointed we didn't get the opportunity to try for a really fast lap. That's the racer in me I suppose. Overall, the past three days have been very positive, and I'm enjoying working with my new crew to try and improve the bike further. It would be good to end the season with a good, fast lap and, although I've never ridden the Ninja ZX-RR at Jerez before, that's what I'll be aiming for when we head there at the end of the month."
Michael Bartholemy: Kawasaki Competition Manager
"Overall we can be very happy with what we've accomplished over these three days. It's only John's second outing on the bike and already he's gone faster on race tyres than we've ever gone here before, which is very encouraging. His whole approach to this test has been extremely positive and the feedback he's given to his crew and Kawasaki's engineers means we will be able to make another step forward with the bike ahead of the year's final test at Jerez. Anthony has also done some excellent work here, evaluating different set-ups on his Ninja ZX-RR and learning a lot about how changes to the set-up affect the feeling he has on the bike. This will stand him in good stead for the future. But, although this test has been very positive, we're under no illusions about what lies ahead. We know this is a good circuit for the Kawasaki, so it will be interesting to see how much progress we make at Jerez, which is completely different in character to Sepang."
1. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 2'00.592; 2. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2'01.811; 3. John Hopkins (Kawasaki Racing Team) 2'02.047; 4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2'02.128; 5. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2'02.447; 6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2'02.587; 7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2'02.643; 8. Anthony West (Kawasaki Racing Team) 2'02.659; 9. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2'02.700; 10. Yamaha Test Team 2'03.269; 11. James Toseland (Yamaha) 2'03.550; 12. Yamaha Test Team 2'05.755; 13. Yamaha Test Team 2'05.879
Source: Kawasaki Racing Team Press Office
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