Kawasaki's John Hopkins continued to improve his lap time during the second day of testing at a blisteringly hot Sepang circuit. The Anglo-American was just over half-a-second off the fastest time today, but is confidently predicting that this gap will be much reduced once he gets the chance tomorrow to dial in further the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR.
Hopkins's Kawasaki teammate, Anthony West, will be looking for the same level of improvement on the final day of testing, after a successful morning that saw his lap time tumbling with every run aboard the 2008 Ninja ZX-RR.
Both riders worked their way through an intensive tyre testing program with Bridgestone while conditions were good this morning, before switching back to working on the set-up and evaluation of chassis and suspension components as track temperatures soared and grip levels dropped during the afternoon session.
West identified a front tyre and rim combination that gave him more confidence in the front end of the bike, as he pushed to close the time gap on his more experienced teammate. The Australian will continue with the same combination tomorrow when he hopes to see another significant improvement in his lap time, before the Kawasaki Racing Team head for his home circuit in Australia for the next round of testing.
Hopkins focussed mainly on evaluating rear tyres that may prove suitable for use at the first race in Qatar, which is likely to be run under similar conditions as experienced today in Sepang. The 24-year-old Kawasaki rider ended the test confident that the tyre data acquired today would allow Bridgestone to identify the best combination of construction, profile and compound for the unique demands of the Qatar circuit.
The final day of testing tomorrow promises to be a punishing one for both riders, with race simulation runs scheduled in the morning and further work on machine set-up planned for the afternoon.
John Hopkins, "We started out this morning by running through some tyres that Bridgestone have brought here, basically to try and identify what will work for the first race of the season in Qatar. It was a useful test, I felt pretty comfortable on the bike and I think it will stand us in good stead come Qatar. We've also continued the evaluation of the two chassis options we have here, and at the moment we've gone with the one closest to the 2007 spec. The other chassis option has some positive points, but we need to do some more work on a few areas before we go with it on the race bike. The engineers will now take this chassis back to Japan, together with the data on it that we've collected, and I guess we will be testing further revisions pretty soon. Tomorrow I'll do a long distance run, and then we'll be looking to refine the set-up of the bike to suit my personal preferences, which I'm looking forward to."