A tough 2008 MotoGP season came to a tough end for Kawasaki on Sunday, when John Hopkins led the ZX-RR challenge with a 14th place finish - having been as high as seventh on the opening lap.
The 25-year-old Anglo-American set his sights on hunting down the group ahead after hsi fast start, but was soon struggling to get his bike turned. Despite his best efforts and some gritty riding, Hopkins lost a place to Shinya Nakano on lap four, and was then unable to hold off a succession of attacks as he struggled to find grip.
"After getting such a good start to the race it became obvious we were going to be fighting a losing battle, because I soon realised I couldn't get the bike turned well enough," said John.
"This also added to the wear on the rear tyre, and the season-long traction issues we've suffered were evident again, so after the first few laps I had to fight for every position I could. We knew it was going to be a tough one because, after all of the rain this weekend we've had very little dry set-up time, but I was really hoping for a top ten finish. I'm also incredibly disappointed as my crew chief, Fiorenzo Fanali, is retiring after this race and I really wanted to get one final good result for him.
"The 2009 season starts with testing tomorrow and we have to start finding solutions to our problems so we can be competitive right from the word go next year," added Hopper.
2008 marked a step backwards for Kawasaki in just about every area in terms of results - Hopkins and Anthony West finished just 16th and 18th in the riders' standings (Randy de Puniet was eleventh last year) and both riders took a best finish of fifth (de Puniet claimed a second place).
Kawasaki also lost 64 points relative to last year in the teams' championship and 56 points in the constructors' championship. Kawasaki was thus ahead of only the (one-rider) Honda LCR outfit in the teams' classification, and remained fifth (and now last) in the constructors' championship.
"Today's race was a tough ending to a tough season for the Kawasaki Racing Team," admitted Kawasaki competition manager Michael Bartholemy. "Conditions out on track were very different to those in practice, but both riders suffered with the issues that have plagued us throughout this year. The final result for this season is certainly not one I was expecting.
"I was confident that with the undoubted calibre of our riders, combined with the professionalism of everyone involved in Kawasaki's MotoGP project, we would be regularly finishing in the top ten, or even top five.
"Unfortunately it didn't work out as we were expecting and this is something we hope the all-new for 2009 bike will address."
West, who has been replaced by Marco Melandri for 2009 and will switch to the World Supersport Championship, finished 17th at Valencia.