The two riders finish in 11th and 12th positions respectively
Kawasaki's John Hopkins and Anthony West finished today's opening practice sessions at Donington Park in a confident mood, after improvements to their machine set-up saw them finish in 11th and 12th positions
Hopkins bravely ended the day's proceedings just a fraction of a second outside of the top ten, despite suffering from the discomfort of a back injury sustained in practice at Catalunya. The 25-year-old Anglo-American wisely used today's dry track time to run through various Bridgestone race tyre combinations ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session, which is predicted to be wet.
Hopkins remains confident that, with the progress made during the post-race test in Spain, and the successful practice sessions today, he can qualify well at the 4.023km Donington Park circuit tomorrow with just minor adjustments to the chassis of his Ninja ZX-RR.
West completed the day just over two tenths of a second behind his teammate in a promising 12th position. Following a recent test in Japan, the Australian has altered the settings of his Kawasaki, which has significantly improved the stability and rear traction of his race machine on corner exit.
The 26-year-old Kawasaki pilot is aware that there is still further progress to be made, but already West feels more confident after the two hour-long sessions today, and is aiming for a return to the top ten in qualifying.
John Hopkins : 11th – 1'29''441 :
« This circuit is quite demanding and it's pretty tough on my back injury. I'm having trouble lifting my leg and shifting through the gears in the tight, quick changes of direction. It's a fight, but we're working through it and the bike feels really good. We've got a few areas to improve on the chassis, but the post-race test at Catalunya has definitely proven positive.
We ran through different tyre options today to see what would be a good race tyre in the dry, as the weather is quite unpredictable and we're not sure what the conditions will be like tomorrow. We have a few changes to make to the machine overnight, but I'm confident we can step it up a gear and we'll be working hard to qualify well here. »
Anthony West : 12th – 1'29''666 :
« Finally I can say that we've managed to make a real step forward with the rear traction problems we have suffered with for so long. The recent test in Japan was positive and this has been proven on the track today, as we're not so far off the pace. The setting we have found does mean the bike now wheelies more, however this is much easier to deal with than not being able to exit the turns. We still need to improve the first part of corner exit, but the rear is gripping much better and driving forward out of the turns rather than spinning so much, which means it feels a lot more controllable and stable than previously. I hope that this improvement can be reflected on qualifying rubber tomorrow, and although there is still a lot of work to do, I feel confident that we are heading in the right direction. »
Naoya Kaneko – Kawasaki Technical Manager :
« Both riders have made improvements in testing recently but there is still a lot of work to do. With John we need to work on the set-up of the front-end of his bike so he has more confidence going into the turns, whereas with Anthony we need to further improve the rear traction of his machine during corner exit. We have made steps forward, and John is working hard despite suffering from an injury, but if we are to be competitive we still need to significantly reduce the time gap between us and the top of the time sheets. »