Fuchs Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano is hoping to have more than his birthday to celebrate this Sunday at the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Nakano turns 27 on race day, and a strong result in the 21-lap race would add the icing on the cake in what will be Super Shinya's 60th career MotoGP start.

A top ten finish is definitely on the agenda and, with three races remaining, Nakano is just 13 points away from 11th position in the championship table... and is obviously eager to repeat the podium he scored at the recent Japanese Grand Prix.

Nakano was actually on target for the podium early in last Saturday's Qatar GP when he was cruelly forced to retire from third position with an engine problem on lap four.

"The conditions will again be hot, but after Qatar I am ready for this and I know the track very well because of all the testing in Sepang. I enjoy racing at this circuit, so I think that a good qualifying and race result is possible," said Nakano. "The track is wide and there is more than one racing line, so there are many opportunities to overtake.

"We have seen the potential of the ZX-RR recently and now I want to keep getting good results in the races. In Kuala Lumpur I have been training a lot because I didn't do much work in Qatar, only four laps in the race. I've had some bad luck this season, but I hope everything goes smoothly with the bike in the Sepang race, so that I can enjoy my birthday," he added.

Team-mate Alex Hofmann is also looking to consolidate his first full racing season with Kawasaki with a consistent string of top ten finishes. The 24-year-old is set to make just his 22nd MotoGP start in Sepang, and is in good form following a tenth in Japan and ninth place in the heat wave of Qatar.

Since arriving from Qatar, Hofmann has taken time off and enjoyed a day of wake boarding at Mine City with MotoGP colleagues including John Hopkins, Jeremy McWilliams, Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards...

"For once the weather in Malaysia feels relaxing after Qatar last week. Since arriving in Malaysia I have been wake boarding with some of the other riders and it was a lot of fun. I crashed a couple of times, but at least the water is soft. We didn't keep score but it seems that, at the moment, Colin Edwards is number one in wake boarding," he confessed.

Turning to this weekend's race, the 5.5km Sepang circuit, with its combination of parallel high-speed straights and wide, sweeping curves, is one Hofmann's favourites and the German rider has his sights set on another top ten finish.

"Coming to Sepang is always enjoyable because I really like this track, and a lot of the winter testing is done here. The two long straights require a lot of top end power output, but the rest of the track demands good corner speed and precise technique, so there are a couple of positives for the ZX-RR here," he said.



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