MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2004
GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE - LE MANS
16TH MAY 2004 - MOTOGP RACE RESULT

DISAPPOINTMENT FOR FUCHS KAWASAKI AT LE MANS

The Fuchs Kawasaki Racing Team suffered cruelly at the hands of Lady Luck at Le Mans this afternoon, with Alex Hofmann and Shinya Nakano both forced to retire from the French Grand Prix as a result of mechanical problems.

Alex Hofmann's race lasted just five laps before a sudden loss of power and a sliding rear end alerted the Fuchs Kawasaki rider to a problem with his Ninja ZX-RR. A glance down at the oil on his boot was enough to let the 23-year-old German rider know his race was run, and he immediately pulled off the track to avoid dropping oil on the racing line.

After a bad start, Shinya Nakano had worked his way through the field to 11th place when a fractured oil line deposited a film of oil over the rear tyre of his Ninja ZX-RR and, like his teammate before him, the 26-year-old Japanese rider was forced to retire from the race and start the long walk back to the paddock.
Shinya Nakano: Retired (lap 16)

"It just wasn't our day today. I had a few problems with the clutch and struggled to get the bike off the line at the start, which dropped me back down the field. I managed to work my way back through the pack in the early stages of the race, and by the halfway point I was convinced that there was a realistic chance of a top ten finish. I knew I had a problem when the rear tyre started sliding badly, but it was only when my foot kept slipping off the footpeg that I realised there was oil on my boot. I didn't want to risk a crash, nor cause anyone else problems, so I pulled off the track. It's disappointing, but this is a new bike and we're competing at the very highest level, so the odd problem is to be expected. On a positive note, the bike matched up well against the opposition when I was coming through the field, so we're definitely moving in the right direction in terms of development."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"Without a doubt this has been a very disappointing weekend for us, and I just hope that we've had a whole season's worth of bad luck in one go and that the rest of the year will be easier. It looks like we're going to be very busy in the two weeks before the Italian Grand Prix, but I'm confident that we'll come back stronger than ever at Mugello."