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High and low for Hofmann and Nakano

High and low for Hofmann and Nakano

High and low for Hofmann and Nakano

Alex Hofmann scored his best result of the season so far with a determined ride to ninth place in the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar on Saturday but whilst the German celebrated, his team-mate Shinya Nakano saw a potential podium finish snatched away when his Ninja ZX-RR suffered a mechanical failure on lap four.

The retirement was a huge disappointment for the Japanese speed merchant who had made a brilliant start from fifth on the grid to move into third place behind eventual race winner Sete Gibernau, and Carlos Checa on lap two.

"I had bad luck today, but that's racing," said Nakano. "Last race I was on the podium but today an engine problem meant a disappointing end to the race while running in third place.

"My start was very good, but there were a lot of riders bumping into each other, so there was a big chance of crashing. Obviously Kawasaki have to work hard to understand our engine problems, but despite this result, I'm very confident for the future after qualifying fifth and racing in third place."

Starting eighteenth on the grid Hofmann's task was made more difficult but the youngster moved up to 13th on lap nine and then positioned himself for a late race charge into ninth.

"That was a really tough race, but I'm really happy because it's my best result of the season after starting so far back," said Hofmann. "But it could have been even better, because towards the end of the race I could run at the same pace as Hopkins and Abe, but I was just too far behind.

"The start was a big problem from the dirtiest part of the track on the inside; I was just spinning and sliding and lost too much time in the early laps. In the final laps I was just riding smoothly and shifting gear early."

"It is disappointing to know that the ZX-RR has the performance potential that Shinya again showed today, only to have some engine problems rule him out of the race," added Team Manager Harald Eckl.

"It is clear that we have to work harder to keep our motors alive and that is our priority now. Shinya did a fantastic job this weekend, so I understand completely how he feels today. Alex also performed strongly for his best result of the season, and if he can qualify better and make stronger starts then his performances will only improve."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, Shinya Nakano

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