MotoGP »

Kawasaki heads home.

This weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi once again marks round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship, but the Kawasaki Racing Team will return home with significantly less points than one year ago.

This time last year, Kawasaki sat fifth in the constructors' championship (with 94 points) and seventh in the teams' classification (112 points). One year on and it remains fifth in the constructors' championship - now last following the withdraw of Team Roberts - but with 71 points, whilst slipping to ninth in the teams' championship (87 points).

Only the one-man Honda LCR outfit is behind Kawasaki in the teams' classification - while JiR Team Scot's single-rider entry, rookie Andrea Dovizioso, has managed to collect 42 points more than the combined total of Kawasaki's John Hopkins, Anthony West and US GP stand-in Jamie Hacking!

Injuries suffered by Hopkins have clearly influenced the points haul, but the 2008 ZX-RR has failed to build on the promise shown by the '07 design, which took a second place finish in the hands of Randy de Puniet at a wet/dry Motegi last season.

All of which means that the Kawasaki bosses present this weekend will probably be asked to once again wait for next year, when Kawasaki will field Marco Melandri alongside Hopkins - and also probably run a third ZX-RR - marking what will be Team Green's most high profile MotoGP presence since the four-stroke class was introduced in 2002.

"We are mainly concentrating on the development of the machine for next year, although it would be great to finish the final few rounds of 2008 with strong results," confirmed Hopkins, who has taken a best finish of fifth so far this season.

Hopkins and West are currently 17th and 18th in the world championship standings, with 41 points each. West, who has lost his Kawasaki ride for next season, has out-scored Hopper at the last three events and led the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, until being force to serve a ride-through penalty.

"Motegi is a track that I know well, because I've done a lot of laps around there in the past," said Ant, who raced extensively in Japan aboard 1000cc machines during his younger years. "It's a very grippy circuit with an interesting layout. Last year we performed well there, particularly in qualifying, but a small mistake in the race meant we didn't quite achieve the result we were capable of. I know it's not going to be an easy ride for us this weekend, but it's Kawasaki's second home event, so I hope we can gain a strong result."

Motegi hasn't been the luckiest of tracks for Hopkins, but the 25-year-old Anglo-American is adamant that it is a circuit he enjoys.

"Motegi has never been a circuit that's been kind to me, as I've always had a lot of bad luck there. Even last year, which was my best season so far, Motegi was definitely my worst round. However, maybe this is the year we can turn it around after all of the bad luck we've had with injury," said John. "It's a track I actually enjoy, the fans and atmosphere are all a lot of fun, and the circuit layout is good too."

Kawasaki is the only MotoGP manufacturer without a race win since the start of the four-stroke era.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kawasaki Garage, Italian MotoGP 2008
Twin Ring Motegi, Japanese MotoGP, 2016
Twin Ring Motegi, Japanese MotoGP, 2016
Twin Ring Motegi, Japanese MotoGP, 2016
Marquez, Japan MotoGP 2016
Redding, Japanese MotoGP Race 2015
Hayden, Race action, Japanese MotoGP Race 2015
Crutchlow, Japanese MotoGP 2015
Valentino Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha at Motegi.
Takumi Takahashi on the Team HRC Nissin Honda at Motegi.
Eugene Laverty on the Power Electronics Aspar Honda at Motegi in Japan.
Aleix Espargaro on the factory Suzuki GSX-RR at Motegi.
Rossi, Japanese MotoGP 2014
Rossi leads, Japanese MotoGP 2014
Twin Ring Motegi circuit,  Japanese MotoGP 2014
Twin Ring Motegi circuit,  Japanese MotoGP 2014
Twin Ring Motegi circuit,  Japanese MotoGP 2014
Twin Ring Motegi circuit,  Japanese MotoGP 2014

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

DFH - Unregistered

September 23, 2008 11:02 PM

Mark S, On what basis can you claim "West cannot develop a cold". He has complained of a lack of front end feel all year and Kawasaki have done nothing to address it. The much more likely scenario is that Ant has been clear about a development path and Kawasaki are incapable of providing it....

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.