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Bartholemy reflects on `toughest year´ in Kawasaki

Bartholemy reflects on `toughest year´ in Kawasaki

Early crashes and high expectations in 2008 make `Team Green´ hungry for 2009 improvement.

`This has been a tough year; maybe the hardest one since I joined Kawasaki in MotoGP.´

The frank analysis of Michael Bartholemy, `Team Green´s Competition Manager and a man always straightforward in assessment of the Japanese factory´s 800cc efforts. In 2007 the team had raised the bar with a competitive bike made to the tightest of deadlines, but found the same rate of progression difficult in the recently concluded season.

`The expectation was very high; we had John Hopkins coming in after finishing fourth in the championship –when he had a crash in Phillip Island it delayed us by two months, and we weren´t really ready for the first races. Anthony West was also struggling more than we thought, because he had done some quite good races in 2007,´ explains the Belgian on a season which stuttered and never ascended to the heights predicted.

`Now that the season is over, we know more about where we made mistakes, what we can learn and that we have to do better. We aren´t here to finish eighteenth in the championship.´

The frequent injuries suffered by Hopkins over the course of the year, including the vertebrae problem picked up in Assen that kept the Anglo-American out of action for three races, took their toll on the development of the 2008 project, but particular personal impact was felt by West´s lack of results. Bartholemy had taken measures to improve the Australian´s confidence and comfort in the team, even moving him out of Salzburg, Austria to be closer to the team base.

`Tough for me personally was seeing Anthony suffering. It was my idea to keep him in the team for 2008, we had made some good results, and this year it was very hard for him.´

Kawasaki now return to the scene of Hopkins´ ill-fated 2008 preseason test, Phillip Island, for their final action of the year. This time round, the 25 year-old will be joined by Marco Melandri in riding the Ninja ZX-RR.

MotoGP, 2008, Kawasaki Racing Team

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