As De Puniet crashes out
The first world championship motorcycle Grand Prix for 14 years took place at Misano today and it was a race of very mixed fortunes.
Kawasaki Racing Team pilot, Anthony West, managed a well-deserved eighth place while Randy de Puniet crashed
soon after the start and was unable to continue.
After flying off from tenth on the grid, West initially battled with Marco Melandri but when the Italian moved further up the field, it was Alex Barros, Colin Edwards and Toni Elias who he had to tussle with. After some dicing, Edwards dropped back and Brazilian Barros retired, leaving the Ninja ZX-RR rider to fight with Elias. West boldly managed to fend the Spaniard off, holding on to seventh, for around half the 28-lap race but was overtaken just three laps from the end.
It was a strong performance from the 26-year-old West in only his sixth outing on the Kawasaki. This, the 13th round of the MotoGP world championship, saw him put in a fastest lap of 1'36.246 mid race and, having scored championship points at every round he's ridden, he's notched up an impressive 41 in total and sits at 15th in the current standings for the season.
Things didn't go so well for Randy de Puniet, however, who crashed just two corners into the race when the rear of his Ninja ZX-RR came round on him. The 26-year-old Frenchman collected Dani Pedrosa on his way into the gravel trap, and both riders were unable to rejoin the race. It was a huge disappointment for the Frenchman who had ridden brilliantly all weekend, looking increasingly strong and confident at the Misano circuit.
Happy with his set up and choice of Bridgestone tyres, he had his sights set on a podium finish but it was not to be.
However, having spent the past few days as a virtually permanent fixture at, or near, the top of the timesheets during practice and qualifying - and he was the fastest man in this morning's warm-up session with a top speed of 244.6kmh - de Puniet will be even more determined to prove himself at the next round.
The 57,321 fans who packed the circuit from early morning left without the hoped-for celebration of an Italian rider winning but there was a spectacular atmosphere at the track nonetheless and there will be more to come at Estoril, in Portugal, in a fortnight. Kawasaki will be back and will continue to pursue that podium finish that has so far eluded them this season.
"My start wasn't so bad, which meant I was in quite a good position going into turn one, but as I approached the second corner all I could see were guys flying through the air. I didn't feel that strong during the first few laps. In fact, to be honest, much of the race was really difficult because I had a few small problems with the feel of the bike all the way through. Although small, these problems made it quite difficult to wrestle the bike around such a small and tight track. I'm a bit annoyed Elias went past me towards the end: just like he did in Brno! But I held him off for most of the race, which is some small consolation. I think he could see that I had to fight the bike at some parts of the track as he was waiting behind me. Anyway, by the later stages, the tyres were pretty well gone and I couldn't hold him off. Still, top ten is not too bad, you've got to be happy with that, and I got some more points. If we can improve the small problems we had today, I'm sure we'll be running a lot further up and I'll be able to go better towards the end of the race. We're always working on things and have more time to improve further during testing tomorrow."
Randy de Puniet
"I don't know what happened, we have to check the data because when I tried to change direction, entering the left corner, I lost the rear, touched Pedrosa and crashed. I don't know if I used the rear brake or not, I want to check our data so I have a better idea about what happened. Obviously, I'm disappointed. I feel I did really well over the weekend so, to finish the race at the second corner is not very good. Luckily, there aren't any big injuries: the footpeg went in to my back when I crashed, and that hurts, but it's nothing major. But yes, obviously, I'm not very happy."
"Randy has been fast all weekend, but then he made a mistake going into the second turn and that's where his race ended. It's a shame because he had the potential to finish on the podium today and I'm sorry for the two riders who were the innocent victims of the crash. Anthony also had a hard race today but, once again, he brought the bike home in the top ten to continue his run of scoring points in every race. Hopefully, with a full day of testing here at Misano tomorrow, Anthony and his crew will be able to eliminate the small problems that he had to contend with in today's race. Despite Randy's crash today, we will head for the next race at Estoril with confidence high, and with both riders determined to produce a strong performance in the Portuguese Grand Prix."