Shinya Nakano showed pure class to ride his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR into a brilliant ninth place under difficult circumstances in today's Catalunya Grand Prix.

Nakano was the first rider using Bridgestone tyres to finish the race, and just failed to hold what would have been a deserving eighth place in the final stages.

Nakano's brave fight against diminishing rear end grip forced him to unwillingly concede eighth position with two laps remaining of the 25-lap race, which was won by Valentino Rossi.

Nakano started 12th and by lap six had charged into eighth place after passing a group of riders, including the Ducati of Loris Capirossi. For the next 18 laps Nakano controlled his top ten position with a stylish performance in hot and slippery conditions.

This was Nakano's fifth top ten result out of six races this season.
The race was a huge disappointment for German rider Alex Hofmann, who has been out of luck since breaking his wrist in a promotional event more than two months ago.

After an intense two days of tyre testing and set-up preparation, Hofmann was primed for a strong performance. However, his race was spoiled when tyre induced vibration at the rear of his Ninja ZX-RR forced the Kawasaki pilot to pit for a change of tyre.

Hofmann had started the race with a slightly softer specification rear tyre compared to Nakano, but felt comfortable with his choice for the race having completed more than 20 laps on the same tyre earlier in the weekend.

Hofmann's pit crew made a fast rear tyre change to send their rider back out, to eventually complete the race in 17th position, one lap down.

On his return to the race Hofmann said he was initially able to run at the pace of Colin Edwards and Max Biaggi, which only added to his feeling of frustration.

Hofmann was having just his second race after an eight-week injury layoff.

Today's race was watched by a capacity crowd of 105,698, who again confirmed the massive following that the MotoGP World Championship has in Spain.

Shinya Nakano: #56 - Ninth

"I enjoyed the race, even though I would have preferred to hold off Bayliss at the end, but it was just not possible. Over the final ten laps it was very difficult for me to control the sliding of the rear tyre. But I was the first Bridgestone rider to finish, which showed that compared to other Bridgestone teams our set-up for the race was the best it had been all weekend. My start was fast and I pushed very hard in the opening laps and was able pass some riders, but then I had a lonely race just trying to score top ten points."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"This was a tough race for Kawasaki given the track and tyre conditions today. But Shinya saved some important points with another determined ride. Shinya's strong start and opening laps showed positive potential for the Ninja ZX-RR. It was not easy for Alex whose rear tyre was a softer compound compared to the tyre that Shinya used. The endurance was not quite what we expected, so he had no other choice but to make a pit stop for a fresh tyre."