MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2004
GRAND PRIX OF QATAR - LOSAIL INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
2ND OCTOBER 2004 - MOTOGP RACE RESULT

HOFMANN FINISHES A FAST NINTH IN QATAR HEAT WAVE

Fuchs Kawasaki rider Alex Hofmann scored his best result of the season so far, with a determined ride to ninth place in today's inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit on the outskirts of Doha.

But while Hofmann celebrated, his team-mate Shinya Nakano saw a potential podium finish snatched away when his Ninja ZX-RR suffered a mechanical failure on lap four.

The retirement was a huge disappointment for the Japanese speed merchant who had made a brilliant start from fifth on the grid to move into third place behind eventual race winner Sete Gibernau, and Carlos Checa on lap two.

It was an impressive turn of speed by Nakano aboard his Bridgestone-shod Kawasaki, and he had high hopes of repeating his third place podium result at last week's Japanese Grand Prix.

Today's 22-lap race was run in heat wave conditions with track temperatures of over 50 degrees, which tested the endurance of both riders and bikes to the limit.

Starting 18th on the grid Hofmann's task was made more difficult on the sand-blown Losail Circuit, which had a narrow racing line that limited overtaking opportunities.

But the German young gun rode with patience and skill to be 13th on lap nine, and then position himself for a late race charge into ninth.

Hofmann had lost ground with a poor start from his grid position on the dirty side of the circuit, with his ZX-RR spinning and sliding all the way to turn one.

It was lap six before the 24-year-old Fuchs Kawasaki pilot had settled into 15th and raced at the same pace as the group in front, which included John Hopkins and Norick Abe.

The Qatar race broke new ground for MotoGP, opening up a new market in the Middle East and providing riders and teams with many new challenges from the dusty but fast circuit, and the stifling and exhausting tropical temperatures.
Shinya Nakano: DNF

"I had bad luck today, but that's racing. Last race I was on the podium but today an engine problem meant a disappointing end to the race while running in third place. My start was very good, but there were a lot of riders bumping into each other, so there was a big chance of crashing. Obviously Kawasaki have to work hard to understand our engine problems, but despite this result, I'm very confident for the future after qualifying fifth and racing in third place."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"It is disappointing to know that the ZX-RR has the performance potential that Shinya again showed today, only to have some engine problems rule him out of the race. It is clear that we have to work harder to keep our motors alive and that is our priority now. Shinya did a fantastic job this weekend, so I understand completely how he feels today. Alex also performed strongly for his best result of the season, and if he can qualify better and make stronger starts then his performances will only improve."