Buoyed by Anthony West's best-ever MotoGP result, the Kawasaki team heads into its rivals' backyard hoping to pull another strong performance out of the bag at this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.

West and team-mate John Hopkins also head for Misano in confident mood after improvements to the Ninja ZX-RR led to a strong showing by both riders last time out at Brno, while further work in the post-race test continued to build on the momentum.

Although not one of his favourite circuits, Misano has proved to be a happy hunting ground for West in the past, the Australian securing victory in the first World Supersport race at the revamped circuit in 2007, before joining the Kawasaki Racing Team and returning to take a hard-fought eighth place finish in last year's MotoGP round. Now, after a career-best finish with fifth place in the Czech Republic Grand Prix, the 27-year old - whose place remains the subject of speculation for 2009 - returns to Misano determined to finish top ten once again.

"I am looking forward to going to Misano following my best ever result in MotoGP, especially as we managed to make further improvements to the bike [in the post-race test at Brno] which has certainly made it easier to ride," West commented, "I hope that we can continue with our development this weekend because I am determined for us to be fighting for more strong results in the dry.

"I have spent the last few days in Italy, where I've been out cycling, so I feel relaxed and ready to take on the challenge. There's a good atmosphere at this circuit, but after last year's washout on the opening practice day, the weather could play a really big part in proceedings."

Italy, of course, is home to Ducati, as well as the Milan-based Fiat Yamaha Team, but Kawasaki is keen to mix it with the frontrunners on their home soil. It looked a likely candidate for a podium finish after Hopkins qualified on the front row and made a strong start in the Czech Republic Grand Prix less than a week ago, but its gamble on tyres didn't pay off and, after running at the front up to halfway, the Anglo-American was forced back to eleventh at the flag as traction problems took their toll.

The 25-year old then sat out the two-day test to nurse the painful rib injury sustained in a practice crash but, now fully fit, is confident that the upgrades to his Ninja ZX-RR made ahead of the Brno race will give him a competitive enough package to fight for his first podium finish for Kawasaki.

"We had a positive weekend in Brno following my return after a long absence through injury, and we managed to put the Kawasaki on the front row," Hopkins reflected, "Although I didn't quite achieve the result we were hoping for, Anthony got into the top five, which just shows that the Kawasaki is improving all of the time and is capable of gaining good results.

"I really enjoy the Misano circuit, and managed to get on the podium there last year, so it's certainly a track I like. I've spent the last week resting and training just to give the injuries that I am still carrying the best possible time to recuperate, but I'm feeling stronger and ready to achieve the results we are more than capable of."

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