“This is such a great moment”
The Kawasaki Racing Team today saw all three of their riders come home in the top ten at the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Randy de Puniet claimed 6th place, Anthony West 7th and wild card Roger Lee Hayden, 10th.
In a stunning, 32-lap
race at the California circuit, the trio of 800cc Ninja ZX-RR pilots put on a great show: consistently in the middle of the action, dicing with Edwards, Tamada, Nakano, Barros and each other.
De Puniet was delighted to put the bad luck of the past few races behind him after crashes and mechanical failure have prevented the 26-year-old Frenchman from adding to his points total since the UK round at Donington Park in June. Despite a patchy weekend, he pulled out all the stops in the race today and earned himself another 10 points, taking him to 50 overall and 12th position in the championship.
Team mate, West, despite never having ridden at Laguna, yet again fulfilled his wish to improve his race position at every round: bettering the 8th he gained at Germany's Sachsenring last weekend. Having started from 12th on the grid, the 26-year-old Australian moved up through the pack to take his best finish in front of a loud and very enthusiastic American audience, having spent much of the weekend learning the track, as well as perfecting his set up.
Wild card entry for the race, Roger Lee Hayden, put in an impressive performance in his MotoGP debut, with his hard work over the whole weekend paying dividends when he crossed the line in tenth position, and ended his home Grand Prix as the highest placed American rider. After a sole day's test of the Ninja in Japan at the beginning of July, Hayden had little experience on the bike but didn't let that stop him getting a spectacular result for the MotoGP squad.
Indeed, he very narrowly missed out on 9th, having been passed by the vastly experienced Alex Barros at the very final corner.
Kawasaki's Competition Manager, Michael Bartholemy, was particularly pleased with the progress the team made over the course of a difficult weekend and, of course, with the race result: "This is such a great moment; it's fantastic when things like this happen. We're the only manufacturer to have three riders finish today in the top ten and we had the first American rider over the line at the end."
« It's been a difficult few days though: we didn't qualify so well, we were struggling a little and even doubting ourselves a bit but we had a fantastic race. Randy rode brilliantly, Anthony's never even been here before and Roger's never raced a GP bike! I think, as they say in California, it's been awesome. A very special day for us", concluded Bartholemy.
The Kawasaki Racing Team leave Laguna on a high, determined to carry the momentum through to the next round at Brno in the Czech Republic, which takes place next month.
Randy de Puniet
"I'm very happy. It's not been easy here: setting the bike up and getting good, consistent lap times. But this morning, in warm up, we tried a new suspension setting and front tyre and things got better for the race. It was a good result, especially from 13th on the grid. I was pleased with my start and had a good first lap, didn't lose time behind Nakano and Edwards and rode my race behind some fast riders. I saw on my pit board that Anthony was behind me so for Kawasaki it's a very good result: it's perfect and I'm very happy. It's great to do a good race before the summer break."
"It's getting easier every time I ride but it was still quite a difficult race, especially going up and down on the hills. And it was pretty hot but I'm feeling good and felt strong throughout. I didn't even know what position I was in half the time. All I could see was the guys in front of me; I hardly looked at my pit board at all. I had to ask the crew what place I got when I came back in and I'm really happy with the result. The team have done a great job, they've worked really hard and it just shows how good the bike is."
Roger Lee Hayden
"It was a good race for me. I didn't have a great start because, when the lights went off, it took a few seconds for it to click, what I was supposed to do! I just tried to run a consistent race. It's a shame Barros got me at the last corner, but top ten is a good result and I feel like I've learned a lot. The Bridgestone tyres worked well, the bike was excellent and my whole team really did a good job and let me take things slowly, working at my own pace. I really enjoyed the bike and, even though it's been a very busy weekend, it's been an awesome experience and I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. I wouldn't change it for anything and I want to say thanks to whole team for making it so easy for me."