MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2004
CINZANO AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX - PHILLIP ISLAND
17TH OCTOBER 2004 - MOTOGP RACE RESULT
|BOTH FUCHS KAWASAKI RIDERS IN THE POINTS
Fuchs Kawasaki riders, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann, both finished in the points in today's Australian Grand Prix, finishing 12th and 13th respectively in a hard fought race.
Nakano is now just three points out of a top ten finish in the MotoGP World Championship, his stated goal before the season started, and there is still one race remaining, the Valencia Grand Prix in two weeks time.
The race was run in sunny but cool conditions, with a track temperature of 30 degrees at the super-fast, 4.4 km Phillip Island circuit.
Despite his 12th place finish, Nakano recorded a race time that was 57 seconds faster than the best Ninja ZX-RR race time at Phillip Island a year ago.
This represents a dramatic step forward with Kawasaki's MotoGP project, which only just celebrating its second anniversary.
Both riders were a little disappointed not to have the opportunity to capitalise on their strong qualifying performances.
Hofmann did not make a good start from eighth on the third row, his best ever qualifying position in MotoGP, and was 11th at the end of lap one, just ahead of Nakano.
The Ninja ZX-RR pair then raced furiously in a tight group including Ruben Xaus and Carlos Checa.
But Nakano had difficulty pushing to his usual fast level due to a lack of rear traction.
After recovering from his poor start Hofmann raced hard, despite conceding some top speed to his rivals. He also raced with a slightly harder compound rear Bridgestone tyre than his Fuchs Kawasaki team-mate.
The penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship was watched by 42,500 fans.
|Shinya Nakano: 12th
"It was a very hard race for me. Right from the start I found it difficult to push hard and force the pace. Even after I passed Alex it was not possible to ride as fast as I would have liked. Then there was a great battle with Xaus and Checa and I was hoping to have an opportunity to overtake them late in the race, but towards the end my lap times dropped away. I was suffering with a lack of traction around the left-handers, always a problem at this track with so many fast corners."
|Harald Eckl: Team Manager
"I expected better results here, but both riders did the best they could in the conditions today. The positive point is the performance increase over the race distance with the Ninja ZX-RR compared to this race last year -- 57 seconds faster, showing that we are heading in the right direction. But we are still short of engine performance, and that is a crucial part of our development program. We still have something to race for in Valencia, with Shinya fighting for a top ten place in the final standings."