Fuchs Kawasaki rider Shinya Nakano finished eighth in today's energy-sapping Malaysian Grand Prix, conducted at a blisteringly hot Sepang Circuit.

However, the 21-lap race, with track temperatures reaching 50 degrees, was a major disappointment for German rider Alex Hofmann who did not finish. Hofmann was forced into the pits on lap eight with a minor electrical problem on his Ninja ZX-RR.

Nakano's result was a deserving reward for a tenacious ride on his 27th birthday, which he celebrated at the track today. After a brilliant qualifying performance Nakano started from third place on the front row.

But Nakano's Ninja ZX-RR was swamped on the long charge into turn one, and he then lost more time on a crowded track as riders bumped and pushed for track position through the switchback into turn two.

Nakano was tenth at the end of lap one and, once clear of the Ducati of Troy Bayliss on lap four, he settled into a long chase of the group ahead, including Sete Gibernau, Makoto Tamada and Carlos Checa.

Nakano was running at the same pace as his factory rivals, but had conceded too much time on the opening lap to make a major impact. In a last ditch attack the Japanese ace secured eighth place with two laps remaining, when he passed Checa's factory Yamaha.

At the chequered flag Nakano was just one second behind Tamada in fifth place, evidence of the closeness of MotoGP competition.

Hofmann deserved more after a strong showing throughout two days of practice and qualifying. On Friday he was fifth fastest on the provisional grid, but was unlucky with traffic in final qualifying when he dropped to 13th on the grid.

Hofmann was comfortable with his race set-up, but lost positions on the two long straights on lap one, and then battled a frustrating electrical misfire until his retirement.

The Fuchs Kawasaki team now travels to Australia for the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island next Sunday.
Shinya Nakano: 8th

"My start was not so good, and then turn one was very busy and I touched another rider; it was very close. It took me three laps to pass Bayliss and that cost me more time, but my bike and tyres were working as normal. I was riding at my maximum and so were Sete, Makoto and Carlos, so it is very difficult to overtake - the ZX-RR just needs a little more traction off the turns to give us a chance on the straights. The conditions were very difficult, but I'm quite happy, even though I expected more after starting third."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"Even though Shinya finished eighth after starting on the front row I am satisfied with the result. Shinya did an excellent job after losing time at the start and then bumping another rider in turn one. He was able to make up time and then keep pace with his main rivals, including Sete Gibernau and Makoto Tamada. And passing Carlos Checa late in the race was an important move. A small electrical problem stopped Alex's bike, which did not give him an opportunity to show his ability today."