Shinya Nakano delivered another classy top ten finish for Kawasaki, with a gritty ride into eighth place in today's Dutch TT at Assen.
It was a classy effort by the stylish Japanese rider, who deserved more after an exhausting effort on the power-hungry Circuit van Drenthe.
However, the TT proved to be a forgettable race for Nakano's teammate, Alex Hofmann, who was forced to retire his Ninja ZX-RR with mechanical problems on lap fourteen.
Nakano started the race superbly from fourth on the grid, and was in engaged in a breathtaking contest for the top positions in the opening laps with Honda riders Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden and Sete Gibernau.
However, despite carrying impressive corner speed, Nakano found he could not match the top end performance of the leading group as eventual race winner Valentino Rossi came past on lap three.
By mid-race Nakano was engaged in a stirring contest for eighth place with Ducati rival Loris Capirossi, as they battled to be the first rider home on Bridgestone tyres.
Nakano set his fastest lap of the race on lap 15 of 19, at the height of his battle with Capirossi, and he eventually pulled a four second gap over Bridgestone rivals Carlos Checa and Capirossi at the finish.
Meanwhile, Hofmann started the race on his back-up race bike after his first choice Ninja ZX-RR suffered a technical problem on the warm-up lap.
The 25-year-old German surged into eighth on the opening lap, and was matching Nakano's pace while holding ninth position ahead of Max Biaggi, John Hopkins and Checa on lap six, when transmission problems slowed his progress.
Although Hofmann smoothed his riding style to counter problems while downshifting through the gears, he was eventually forced to retire from a certain top ten result.
Today's race was watched by a huge crowd of 90,700 spectators, and run in warm and dry, but overcast conditions.
Shinya Nakano: #56 - Eighth
"I'm frustrated because for a few laps I could race with the top guys and it was very enjoyable. But then it was difficult to improve my lap times, even though I could carry good corner speed. I was being passed on the straights, and for sure, we need to find some more top end power. I used a slightly softer rear tyre and it stayed consistent, but I want to be up in the top five racing the other guys. I lost a lot of time in the battle with Capirossi, but I'm happy to be the first Bridgestone rider over the line."
Alex Hofmann: #66 - DNF
"I've decided I need to be positive about this, despite my disappointment. I need to look forward to the next race in America, rather than dwelling on today's bad luck. After switching bikes before the start I was matching the pace of Shinya and the Ducatis for five laps, and the top eight was possible. From lap six the chain was jumping on the sprocket and it was difficult to downshift, and then the engine began misfiring. I was trying to be smooth, but it just got worse and I had to stop."
Ichiro Yoda: Technical Director
"Shinya was again the best Bridgestone rider, but two things are clear after this race. We have to speed up the pace of engine development, especially for the power circuits later in season, such as Brno. Also, we need to work closely with Bridgestone to improve the competitiveness of our bike and tyre package."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager
"A top eight finish is what I thought was possible today, and Shinya achieved that with another excellent performance, although he raced hard and probably deserved a better result. Shinya delivered a 110% effort. And Alex has every right to be very disappointed in missing what could have been a top ten position. He was racing strongly, catching Shinya and matching his times, when his bike stopped."
MOTOGP RACE RESULT
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Gauloises Yamaha Team 38'41.808; 2. Marco Melandri (ITA) Movistar Honda MotoGP +1.583; 3. Colin Edwards (USA) Gauloises Yamaha Team +7.643; 4. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda +10.128; 5. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Movistar Honda MotoGP +14.795; 6. Max Biaggi (ITA) Repsol Honda +21.575; 7. Alex Barros (BRA) Camel Honda +22.725; 8. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team +26.477; 9. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team +30.221; 10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +30.465; DNF. Alex Hofmann (GER) Kawasaki Racing Team +6 Laps
Source:Kawasaki Racing Team Press Office