''That was really a hard race''
John Hopkins demonstrated true grit and determination at the Grand Prix of Catalunya to bring his Ninja ZX-RR home in 10th position, despite carrying a back injury sustained in Friday's practice.
Hopkins got a steady start to the 25-lap
race and pushed as hard as possible, despite being unable to move around easily on his race machine, to make up positions around the 4.727km circuit. The 25-year-old Kawasaki pilot settled into a rhythm and circulated on his own for most of the race, riding through the pain barrier, to cross the line with a very creditable top ten finish.
Teammate Anthony West, who set his fastest lap of the entire weekend in the opening stages, endured a hard, race long fight with Marco Melandri to finish in a points-scoring 12th position. The Australian switched positions with Melandri throughout the race in a nail-biting battle, but despite his persistence the 26-year-old was just beaten to the flag. West was upbeat about the result and he can now look forward to racing at Donington Park, which was where he made his premier class debut aboard the Kawasaki last season.
Depending on his condition, Hopkins will ride during Monday's valuable post-race test to further develop his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR, whilst West will fly to Japan for a two-day test aimed at improving the power delivery of his machine.
“I'm in a lot of pain right now with my injury and that was a really hard race. I tried to pass a few people at the start, but I got boxed out and I lost some ground. I pushed as hard as I could to stay with the group ahead of me, but the pain set in and I had to really focus on settling into a rhythm.
It was then a case of finding a way to ride without moving around too much on the machine to finish the race, and although tenth isn't where I want to be, in this situation I'm pleased we managed to achieve that. We still have a lot of work to do with the bike, and hopefully we can be in a good condition for the next race in Britain.”
“I rode as hard as I possibly could today and I fought hard with Marco for the entire race. I passed him into the turns on many occasions, but his machine was a bit stronger on the straights and it just meant I had a lot of work to do each time he came by. The tyre went off a little in the last few laps, which meant I just didn't quite have enough to re-take him before the finish. I'm happy we had a good race, but we still need to make big improvements to the set-up of the bike. I'm going to Japan for a test where I hope we can try to resolve the rear traction issues I've been suffering, then we'll be back in Europe preparing for Donington Park and, hopefully, we can make another step forwards there.”
“Hopefully this is a new start for us and I am happy that both riders finished the race today, as the last few rounds have been difficult. We need to concentrate on making improvements to the performance of the bike before the next race to provide the riders with the best package possible. Anthony will now spend some time testing in Japan where we have better resources to focus on improving the power delivery of his machine. John rode a hard race today with his injury and we are unsure yet if he'll be able to complete many laps during tomorrow's test. I hope he will be fit to ride and we can continue making steps forward, so that we can be even more competitive at Donington Park.”