Donington : Kawasaki – Day Two
Randy de Puniet and Anthony West will start tomorrow's MotoGP race from eighth and 17th on the grid respectively after today's qualifying practice at Donington Park.
After two wet sessions yesterday, the final practice was held this
morning in the dry and saw de Puniet finish sixth on combined times, just ahead of the afternoon's eventual pole position man, Colin Edwards.
Meanwhile, Anthony, adapting to a dry track on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR after Friday's spectacular, rain-hit debut where he came seventh on combined times, finished in 18th place in practice, nearly two seconds ahead of Team Roberts rider, Kurtis Roberts.
The qualifying session brought with it some unexpected sunshine and lap times continued to rise. De Puniet, with a best time of 1'29.415 and a top speed of 266.485kmh, finished the session just 0.884 seconds behind Edwards, earning himself a position on the third row of the grid.
Still limping slightly due to a knee injury sustained at Mugello, the Frenchman put in a sterling performance. Happy with his bike's set up and Bridgestone tyre choices, he feels confident he can do well in tomorrow's race and certainly aims to beat the 12th place finish he achieved at the Leicestershire circuit last year.
Newcomer to the team, West, managed to find a good dry set up for what will be his first ever MotoGP race. The 25-year-old Australian put in a 1'30.718 lap, putting him 17th on the grid, ahead of Tamada and Roberts.
Having never before ridden on a qualifying tyre, the former 250cc and World Supersport rider managed to put in consistent lap times and continues to give useful feedback to his mechanics, enabling them to be prepared for tomorrow's race, regardless of what the weather decides to do.
Anthony has done well at Donington in the past, taking a third in 2003 and a second (behind a victorious Randy!) in 2005, both in the 250cc championship.
The British GP is always a sell out with the fans and tomorrow's 30-lap race is unlikely to disappoint as the riders face the challenges prompted by the sweeping undulations of Craner Curves and the notoriously tricky Melbourne Loop.
The Kawasaki Racing Team are very pleased with the progress of both bikes and riders and feel confident their new line up and ever-improving Ninja ZX-RRs will bring home some valuable championship points on Sunday.
Randy de Puniet
“Today, I got some good lap times in race conditions and I'm happy about that. I hoped for a bit more in qualifying, and I'm a bit disappointed about being on the third row, but another rider was on my line in the last corner and I lost a little time. Still, I'm happy with the race tyres and we've achieved a good set up. I'm just hoping for a good race, like the one in Barcelona, and aim to be in the top eight: it's a hard track, though, and there are a lot of laps.”
“It's hard getting only two hours in the dry and there's a lot to learn. I've never used a qualifying tyre before and didn't know what to expect. It felt… different! I didn't know how hard I could push it and now I know I wasn't pushing hard enough. I've had a bit of trouble with the front: the bike wants to wheelie all the time and I've got to change some aspects of my riding style to suit the ZX-RR. Tomorrow, I hope to finish and maybe try to get further up than I am now. It's not so bad, though. I normally go faster in the race itself and I'm sure, once I get to follow some of these guys, I'll learn a few things.”
“Yesterday we found a good wet set up but today we had to start again in the dry and it's very difficult to jump on a bike for the first time and then experience such differing conditions. Anthony did very well indeed: it's the first time he's used a qualifying tyre and that isn't easy. Our target is for him to finish the race and he was very consistent on race tyres. We will keep taking it step by step and I think he's going to improve quickly. We just need a little time.”