A good result for Kawasaki
Sunday's Czech Grand Prix saw the Kawasaki Racing Team's riders, Randy de Puniet and Anthony West, complete a hard race in front of a vast crowd at the Brno circuit.
De Puniet, having been strong throughout the previous two days' practice
sessions, started the race from the second row of the grid after a minor mechanical problem during qualifying yesterday prevented him from maintaining the winning pace he'd been setting all weekend.
Riding his Bridgestone shod, 800cc Ninja ZX-RR, the 26-year-old Frenchman shot off the line and fought a great battle with Loris Capirossi, Chris Vermeulen and Valentino Rossi before finishing the 22-lap race in 8th position.
The sight of four top riders on four different factory teams' bikes riding together made for quite a colourful spectacle and one which was surely appreciated by the 141,632 race fans who packed in to the circuit today.
Gaining another eight championship points at this Czech round, de Puniet now stands at 12th in the championship, with a total of 58 points and six races still to go.
West also showed great strength in the race, despite having had a difficult weekend. He started from 16th and, after a very entertaining tussle with Sylvain Guintoli, Carlos Checa, Alex Barros and Toni Elias, rode over the line in 12th place, having overtaken a number of more experienced riders on the way.
A relative newcomer to MotoGP, having joined the team in June, West's inexperience with qualifying tyres proved a major hurdle in yesterday's qualifying session, as he was unable to use them to their full potential, affecting his starting position. However, two days' worth of testing is coming up at Brno this week and the 26-year-old Australian can barely wait to get plenty of practice in before the next race at Misano in a fortnight.
He won at the Italian track earlier this year in a World Supersport race so, bearing in mind it's a new circuit on the MotoGP calendar, he may just have a few tricks up his sleeve.
Randy de Puniet
"My start was much stronger than in the past but not qualifying on the first row yesterday, as I'd hoped, was a bit of a handicap. We tried a harder race tyre yesterday, and it didn't feel right, but I still had some grip problems with the one I used today, and some spinning, which made it a bit too risky to try to pass. Still, I tried to give the maximum, and waited for Rossi to make a mistake - which, characteristically he didn't - but I had a good fight and finished 8th, which isn't a bad result. I've had a good weekend, overall, and I'm looking forward to our two day test tomorrow, when I think we can improve things a little bit, ready for the next race."
"I've been struggling a bit the whole weekend, to be honest, and that was a really difficult race for me. My start was positive, then it took me a few laps to get in to a rhythm, and I began to feel good about half way through: really strong. I felt I was faster than the other guys in some sections but was losing out in others, with some traction problems and the tyre spinning up, which made it really difficult to fight. For me this race was really hard and there are things we need to work on, both with the bike and with myself. I'm glad we've got some testing here tomorrow and I'm definitely looking forward to it: it's what I really need at the moment. Qualifying was so difficult for me: I went quicker on my race tyres than I did on qualifiers, so I've still got a lot to learn. But I'm also really looking forward to the next race. I like Misano and I know it so that should be an advantage."
"Randy has been very fast all weekend, and looked strong, but yes, it was a hard race. With Anthony, I think Brno has been difficult for him but he tried to make the best of it and, given where he started from, his end result is not so bad. I've no doubt he'll be disappointed by it though because he was expecting more. But they both finished in the points and this is good for Kawasaki. What is more, the testing we're going to be doing in the next couple of days should help the team and Anthony, especially, as he will get time to test on qualifying tyres properly, which he's never had the chance to do so far. But it is sure to make us all tougher for Misano."