MotoGP Sepang test: Kawasaki made much-needed clutch progress

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Kawasaki engineers have taken vital steps towards solving some of the clutch problems which have blighted John Hopkins since the American’s move from rivals Suzuki.

John Hopkins has made fixing the troublesome ZX-RR clutch his number one priority before he makes his Kawasaki race debut in Qatar on March 9, 2008.

Hopkins is currently recuperating in America following his spectacular 100mph high-side in the rain at Phillip Island last week, but test rider Olivier Jacque has completed over 150 laps evaluating new clutch parts in Sepang for the last three days.

The French rider has also worked on a new chassis and upgraded ZX-RR motor with more rpm but believes engineers have made positive progress with the clutch.

New parts will also be tested again at the IRTA test in Jerez starting on February but Olivier Jacque told MCN: “Mainly I have been working on the clutch set-up because John uses the clutch a lot during backshifts.

“We are trying to find something to suit his style and we have made some progress with the clutch, which is a good step. We have to wait and see if he likes it in Jerez.

“John likes to control the engine braking himself when back shifting.

“We have to set-up the engine braking by the electronics and by the slipper clutch but if you want to use it manually the clutch is not progressive enough.

“John uses it manually to control the engine braking but it is difficult and this is causing him a problem.”

The problem is heightened with John Hopkins’ fast downshifting action, with Kawasaki engineers saying he can go from sixth to first gear in one second.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt