“I think we're in a strong position”
The Kawasaki Racing Team head for this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans in confident mood, with both John Hopkins and Anthony West determined to make amends after the disappointment of Shanghai.
Hopkins is now fighting fit
again, after sustaining a nasty injury at the Chinese Grand Prix. The 24-year-old Anglo-American caught the back of his knee on the foot peg of his Ninja ZX-RR, after a collision with Alex de Angelis forced him off the track at the end of the 1.2km main straight.
Although the injury looks painful - the whole of the back of his leg is black and blue with bruising - Hopkins has continued with his training programme ahead of the French Grand Prix, where he's confident of a good result on a track that suits particularly well his riding style, his Ninja ZX-RR and his Bridgestone tyres.
Frustrated by his Shanghai performance, West is determined to get his season back on track this weekend at Le Mans. Since China, the 27-year-old Australian has been working closely with his crew to find a solution to the traction problems that have plagued him since the start of the season, and he heads for the French Grand Prix confident that they can find some improvement in this area.
The Le Mans circuit, which is situated in the Sarthe region of France and is home to the legendary 24 Heures du Mans car race, is one of the most famous motorsport facilities in the world. First gear corners dominate the 4.18 km Bugatti track, on which Sunday's 28-lap Grand Prix de France will be run, demanding a bike that is stable under braking, but with explosive acceleration out of the low-speed turns.
"My leg is completely black and blue with bruising, but while it looks quite nasty it hasn't caused me any problems and I'm confident it won't be an issue on the bike. I'm looking forward to Le Mans, as it's a track that suits my riding style and it's one that I like racing on. The track features a lot of hard braking, quick changes of direction and hard acceleration, and that's exactly what the Ninja ZX-RR has been designed for. When you combine this with our Bridgestone tyres, which always seem to work well here, then I think we're in a strong position going into this weekend. The only thing we need to watch out for is the weather, as it's notoriously changeable at Le Mans, but wet or dry I'm confident that we can put in a strong performance in France."
"After the disappointment of the result in China I'm looking forward to Le Mans and, hopefully, securing the results I know I'm capable of. I've had some problems this year with the rear tyre spinning up too easily out of the turns, but after discussing the problem with my crew and Kawasaki's technical staff, we think we've identified what we need to change on the bike to see an improvement in this area. If we can fix this problem, then I'm confident that a top ten finish in France is a realistic goal for me, as I like the Le Mans circuit."