2008-02-17 08:25
Kawasaki's Anthony West stamped his mark on proceedings during the BMW award qualifying practice held today at the Jerez circuit in Spain. The Australian posted the fourth fastest time aboard his Ninja ZX-RR in difficult conditions, which his injured teammate John Hopkins opted not to ride in.

West ended the 40 minute session just 0.219 seconds behind second placed Valentino Rossi, as Casey Stoner took the honours, and the BMW car that was up for grabs, by topping the timesheet. In third place was Nicky Hayden, making West the first rider on the timesheet who hasn't won a MotoGP World Championship.

26-year-old West also gathered valuable data in the less than ideal wet, but drying, conditions to learn more about the handling of his Ninja ZX-RR. The Kawasaki rider completed three tyre evaluations for Bridgestone and is hoping for dry weather tomorrow, so that he can continue working with his crew to refine the overall set-up of the bike before the conclusion of the three-day test in the afternoon.

John Hopkins entered the circuit during the wet session this morning and, despite suffering the effects of his Phillip Island injury, posted the 10th fastest time and completed a total of 12 laps.

The 24-year-old Anglo-American continued with vital work on refining the machine set-up to suit his personal preferences, but found the wet conditions harder on his injured abductor muscle because of the requirement to hang further off the machine in the turns, and the tendency for the bike to move around more in the wet conditions.

Rather than run the risk of aggravating the injury further, Hopkins opted to sit out this afternoon's timed session, although he will test again during tomorrow's third and final day at Jerez should the weather conditions improve.

Anthony West: 4th - 15 Laps - 1:50.799
"Although we are closer to where we need to be time-wise, I am not completely happy with today. In the wet conditions this morning we tried some different settings to improve the bike handling and turning to suit my style more. This afternoon we continued with some tyre evaluations for Bridgestone, although the condition of the track was not brilliant as it was wet in some places and completely dry in others. However, for us this has been valuable, as it has given us the worst scenario in terms of track conditions, which gave us an indication of machine handling on a wet but drying track. There are definitely some areas for improvement, and hopefully we will get some dry test time tomorrow to use the data we have collected, so we can leave here with a clear progression plan prior to the Qatar test."

John Hopkins: DNS
"Conditions during the timed session this afternoon were far from ideal when you're carrying an injury, which is why I opted to sit it out. My priority has to be regaining full fitness for the first race, and I didn't want to risk aggravating the injury just to try and win a car I don't need. I tested what I needed to test this morning and I think we made some progress with changes to the electronics and traction control systems to suit my personal preferences. I will ride tomorrow, depending on the weather, but it is still going to be quite limited due to the pain I still have from the Phillip Island injury."

Michael Bartholemy: Kawasaki Competition Manager
"I am pleased with today as everything is starting to come together and we know where we are at in relation to the other teams. Conditions were not brilliant out on track today, but I think John made the right decision by not riding, as it is important he is fit for the first race. I think Anthony has shown that he is really not far off the pace and I am happy with his result. During the afternoon he tried three different tyres and the last one he used was working for him well, despite the fact the track was mainly wet but also dry in some places. I hope tomorrow that the weather improves so that John is able to ride, and also so Anthony can improve his lap times in dry conditions, which has been our main aim since starting pre-season testing."

Qualifying Times:
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1'49.263; 2. Valentino Rossi (46) Fiat Yamaha +1.317; 3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team +1.522; 4. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing Team +1.536; 5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JIR Team Scott +2.049; 6. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda Gresini +2.331; 7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP +2.631; 8. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Honda LCR +2.716; 9. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice d'Antin Ducati +2.795; 10. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +2.975; DNS. John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing Team

Source: Kawasaki Racing Team Press Office

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