“We can know look forward to Sepang”
Today's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island turned out to be a nail-biting battle for Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Anthony West, with their final placements being sixth and 12th respectively.
Having started from sixth
on the grid after a healthy qualifying session yesterday, de Puniet lost places as the race began, finding himself in 10th position by the end of lap one. He was then relegated to 11th when he was overtaken by his team mate, Anthony West, but the Frenchman soon fought back, taking West and Shinya Nakano to move up to ninth.
From there, he overtook John Hopkins and everybody moved up a place when Nicky Hayden dropped out on lap 13. Then, he passed Marco Melandri, all the while holding off the efforts of John Hopkins, who was unable to move past the 26-year-old Ninja ZX-RR rider.
Finally finishing in a comfortable sixth, de Puniet succeeded in surpassing Kawasaki's previous best premier class result at Phillip Island, which was Shinya Nakano's 7th, back in 2005.
West, meanwhile, struggled to maintain his positive early momentum. From his starting position of 10th, he changed places a number of times and ended up fighting hard in a group consisting of himself, Carlos Checa, Chris Vermeulen and Colin Edwards. Much overtaking and re-taking took place, making for some great racing, until the 26-year-old Australian went over the line in 12th.
It was a disappointment for West, who had hoped for more at his home round but, yet again, he battled well and continued his run of bringing home championship points at every round since he joined the championship in June: no mean feat for a rider in their rookie year.
Both riders and the team will travel to Malaysia this week for next Sunday's race at Sepang. There, they hope to continue to improve on their results at what will be the penultimate round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.
Randy de Puniet
"Unfortunately, like many for me this year, my start was bad, so I still need to work on those. I got behind Nakano and tried to pass but I made a mistake, losing the rear, and nearly went into the gravel at turn four. I lost another place and was behind Shinya and Anthony, and then it was impossible to overtake, so I waited four or five laps and went for it. Then I got Hopkins and Melandri, who I think had a tyre problem or something, and I finished sixth. It's not a bad result but sure, after the practices, I expected to do better in the race."
"My start wasn't that great but I started to work my way through and did okay; I was feeling good. I tried to push as much as I could until I'd pretty much destroyed the rear tyre. I couldn't keep my speed up through the corners and, as has been the case over the past day or so, it was particularly difficult to feel comfortable when the bike was leaned over on the left hand side. I was working to stay at the front of my group but by the last few laps I don't think the tyre had anything left. I'm not very happy about my result but the fans here have been really supportive so hopefully, by the time we come back here next year, I can give them some more to cheer about."
"I'm feeling pretty happy, over all. Randy's sixth is a good result and, while I'm a bit disappointed that Anthony wasn't able to finish a bit higher by the end of the race, it looks like he may have had a few problems with his tyres. This seems to have made him lose some places at the end of the race, which is a shame, but at the end of the day, both riders rode well for us today and kept fighting until the end. We can now look forward to Sepang: we test a lot there and know the ZX-RR is well-suited to it, so we'll see what happens next weekend."