John Hopkins has confirmed that the front tyre construction given to all riders during the first day of the new single-brand era, during testing at Valencia on Monday, 'feels identical' to that used by world championship rivals Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner during the 2008 MotoGP season.

Bridgestone was always going to use its most successful tyres as the basis for the new limited range of rubber, which will be used by all next season. Most riders - even those making their Bridgestone debut - were pleasantly surprised by tyre performance on Monday.

However, Kawasaki wasn't able to get that particular type of front tyre to work for them this season and - with the option of asking for a special 'ZX-RR tyre' now over - Team Green (like everybody else) must change its bike to suit the tyre.

"The front tyre we were allocated this morning feels identical to the one that Valentino and Casey have been using all year, but we've not been able to run on our bike before," said Hopkins.

"Today we've had the chance to make some changes to the overall set-up of the bike, and it looks like we've made some real progress. I've now got a much better feeling from the front than I've had for some time, and that's given me back the confidence to push harder in the corners."

Happy with the changes, Hopkins then moved on to comparison testing with different engine specifications.

"We've also run back-to-back tests using both bikes on two different engine specifications, and that's allowed us to make a direct comparison and identify a clear direction for development," said the Anglo-American.

"It's also been interesting to start work with my new crew chief, Naoya Kaneko, as he has a very structured approach to the rider debrief and I think this will make a difference when we're pushed for time during race weekends.

Hopkins finished the opening day of the two day test in ninth position, with his best lap time 1.3sec from the top but 0.275sec under his best lap in Sunday's race.

"Overall, it's been a pretty productive day and I'm really happy with the improvements we've made to the bike; it's completely different now and I felt more comfortable on it today than I have all season. If we get more dry weather tomorrow then I hope we can continue to make improvements to the bike," he concluded.

New team-mate Marco Melandri finished his first day as a Kawasaki rider just 0.022sec behind Hopkins.



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