MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2004
CINZANO RIO GRAND PRIX - NELSON PIQUET CIRCUIT
4TH JULY 2004 - MOTOGP RACE RESULT

NAKANO AND HOFMANN ON THE CHARGE IN RIO HEAT WAVE

The Rio Grand Prix lived up to its hot and humid reputation with Kawasaki Racing Team riders, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann, battling exhausting conditions to finish ninth and eleventh respectively.

Hofmann made a superb late race charge, and just missed joining his teammate in the top ten when he failed by less than one second to run down Spanish Yamaha rider Carlos Checa.

However, Nakano was disappointed with the outcome of the 24-lap race, and his inability to launch a stronger challenge on the high-speed Rio circuit.

The 26-year-old Japanese rider finished less than half a second behind Norick Abe, but was frustrated that a horsepower deficit compared to his rivals limited his passing opportunities on the Rio straights.

After settling in eleventh place from the start, Nakano shadowed Abe from lap six, and over the final ten laps staged close battle against his fellow countryman.

Just before the start mechanics worked overtime to change the fuel injection throttle bodies on Nakano's Ninja ZX-RR, after a problem in the pre-race warm-up.

Hofmann faced a big challenge when he was nineteenth at the end of lap one, after a crowded start from 14th on the grid. Once the 24-year-old German rider found some clear track he hunted down John Hopkins and Ruben Xaus and passed both to claim 11th place on lap sixteen.

With six laps remaining Hofmann was seven seconds behind Checa, but closed that gap to less than a second at the finish, as he surged to try and claim tenth place. Hofmann's race pace was consistent and a valuable test of the revised engine mapping used on his Ninja ZX-RR today.

The 24-lap race, with midday track temperatures touching 35 degrees, was watched by an impressive crowd of 55,000 fans.
Shinya Nakano: 9th

"I'm very disappointed because it was not possible to fight any harder today. We know we need more performance from the engine, and hopefully this is being addressed, as finishing 27 seconds behind the race winner is too much. At the beginning of the race I had a good feeling with the bike and could see the leading group, but I just couldn't stay with them. For the last ten laps I tried to pass Norick Abe, but it wasn't possible. I have to say thanks to both my crew and the crew of my teammate, who worked so hard together to change the fuel injection system on my bike before the race."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"I'm delighted with the performance of both riders today, although we missed my wish for both to finish in the top ten by just one position. What is obvious from this race is that we need more engine power to make the next step, and that is the target for us now. The handling consistency of the bike and Bridgestone tyres was our strong point today. I'd also like to congratulate Bridgestone on their first MotoGP race win today. They put the work in after the problems at Mugello and it's good to see them reap the benefit of that work this weekend."