Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR riders, Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann, both finished in the world championship points in a hot and humid Italian Grand Prix at Mugello today.

Nakano scored his fourth top ten finish of the season with a determined ride into tenth place, while Hofmann made an impressive comeback from injury to finish twelfth.

This was Hofmann's first race since the opening Grand Prix of the season at Jerez, after being sidelined for eight weeks with a fractured left wrist.

After a week of intense physiotherapy Hofmann was able to race today without the use of painkillers. In a late charge the 25-year-old German won out in a close battle with Honda rival Troy Bayliss to secure twelfth by just three tenths of a second.

After settling into 13th place on lap six, Hofmann matched the early pace of teammate Nakano before his progress was slowed mid-race when his Ninja ZX-RR developed a small engine misfire for three laps.

Hofmann then overcame an inconsistent engine braking system to chase down Bayliss before moving ahead of the Honda rider on lap 15 of the 23-lap race.

Nakano started sharply from ninth on the grid, but was frustrated in not being able to stay with the lead group on the long and fast Mugello circuit.

From lap six Nakano engaged Suzuki rival and fellow Bridgestone rider John Hopkins in a torrid battle and eventually moved ahead of the American and into tenth place on lap eleven.

Over the remaining 12 laps Nakano's Ninja ZX-RR pulled a five second gap over the Hopkins Suzuki and easily held tenth position.

Kawasaki Technical Director Ichiro Yoda said after the race that today's performance at Mugello reinforced his view that rear traction and acceleration will remain the focus of Kawasaki's on-going development programme.

The next race is the Catalunya Grand Prix in Barcelona in just seven days, on June 12.

Shinya Nakano: #56 - Tenth

"Tenth place is not the result I wanted, but that was the maximum I could do today in these conditions. My start was okay, but I couldn't really stay with the front group and then I had a very hard battle with John Hopkins. It took a long time to pass him, but then I was able to hold tenth place to the finish. I raced with the best tyre and chassis set-up that was available to us, but for this track but we need to work on getting more acceleration, and also braking."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"Both Shinya and Alex did an excellent job today, their results were the maximum that was achievable at this track. We came away with some good points, but for sure Mugello remains a circuit that does not exactly suit the ZX-RR in its current stage of development. Alex made a very strong comeback from injury and overcame a small electronic problem with his engine which slowed him mid-race."