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Mixed feelings at Kawasaki

Mixed feelings at Kawasaki

Mixed feelings at Kawasaki

Riding his Ninja ZX-RR fitted with the latest dual-compound Bridgestone tyres, Shinya Nakano made a fast start and challenged the top group throughout the race. Nakano was the first Bridgestone rider to finish the race and consolidated his ninth place in the World Championship standings with 65 points, while his team-mates Alex Hofmann and Olivier Jacque both crashed in the first corner.

At the finish Nakano was just 4.5s seconds behind race winner Valentino Rossi, having closed the gap to Alex Barros (fifth) and Max Biaggi (fourth) to just over one second in the final laps.

´That was an exciting race for me, it makes such a big difference when you see the top group and can race close to them,´ said the Japanese. ´In the second race I was able to do fast and consistent times and overtake Capirossi and chase the front group. The tyre performance from Bridgestone was very good today in these conditions and I was very comfortable at this pace. Towards the end I had a couple of front end slides so I just made sure I finished. Kawasaki and Bridgestone are back challenging the front group, which is exactly where we should be.´

The race was a bitter disappointment for Kawasaki team riders Alex Hofmann and Olivier Jacque, who collided at the first corner at the first start. Both had qualified at a similar pace to Nakano and there was an expectation that Kawasaki´s three riders would all challenge for top ten positions. Both Hofmann and Jacque had differing versions of the turn one crash.

´I´m sorry for Alex, I know how bad he must feel about this incident at his home race,´ said Jacque. ´In turn one Shakey Byrne came from behind, very hard on the brakes and crashed in front of Alex who just had to wait a moment to flick into the corner. I was behind and on the inside a little and able to turn into the corner, and then Alex had some room and turned in and we just touched, it was an unfortunate incident. It´s very disappointing for me, I need to race and do laps and get more experience on the Kawasaki.´

Hofmann was obviously disappointed after the incident; the German said: ´It´s very frustrating to be out of a 30-lap race after just 250 metres, especially my home Grand Prix, and it is not a good situation for the Kawasaki team. I made a good start and going into turn one Shakey Byrne was way too late on the brakes and I knew he would crash, so I opened some room for him. Then I flicked into the corner, it was open and clear, and then my rear end was gone when OJ hit me. I haven´t got eyes in the back of my head. Shakey being late on the brakes is not the reason we crashed. I had a chance today to show what I could do, it´s very disappointing.´


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