Uphill Battle for Hopkins

Henny Ray Abrams | September 13, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT 13: Kawasaki’s John Hopkins started almost from scratch in today’s dry qualifying for Sunday’s inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Friday’s rain meant the entire MotoGP field had no dry set-up time and the riders were greeted by a wet but drying track on Saturday. It wasn’t until halfway through the late morning session that the track had a completely dry line along it’s 2.621-mile length.

So when Hopkins went into the lone afternoon qualifying session he was armed with very little dry set-up information. The result was a 16th place starting spot that has him back on the sixth row in a race that will almost certainly be run in the rain.

“It was like starting all over again today, as the conditions were very different to the rain we had yesterday,” Hopkins said. “I was struggling a lot this morning, as well as most of the afternoon, and our lap time was not anywhere near where we needed it to be. Then with 20-minutes of the afternoon session to go, we tried a front tire that we don’t tend to use that often on our bike and in just one outing we reduced our lap time by half a second.

“Unfortunately we had to switch our focus then to our qualifying runs, and this left us just 16th on the grid. We have a few ideas for warm-up and it will be very important for us to get a good start to the race tomorrow. I’m actually pretty confident, as well as incredibly motivated, because this is my home round and there are a lot of American fans here. I just hope that the weather situation is consistent throughout the entire day, as this will be important while we’re trying to improve our setting.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.