Samsung Crescent Racing’s John Hopkins raced to fifth and seventh places today as a “Wild-Card” entry in the World Superbike Championship round at Silverstone in the UK.
Following his victory in Superpole yesterday – where he set a new lap record – the Suzuki GSX-R1000-mounted British Superbike Championship contender started both of today’s races from Pole Position, going into the opening race full of fight and dicing for the lead in the early stages. But with a riding style that dictates use of the rear brake, disaster struck mid-way through race one for Hopkins when he suffered a rear brake issue, effectively ending hopes of a podium finish. But he still finished the race in an impressive fifth place.
In race two, Hopkins was at the sharp-end of the action, battling hard with WSBK title contenders Marco Melandri, Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty.
“Boy that was a lot of fun. The first race was a bit of a disappointment with the rear brake pad issues, but I managed to alter my corner-entry and keep my focus to bag that fifth place. Race two felt better, but to keep with those factory bikes you really need to make up time on the brakes and on the gas out of the turns. I knew that would kill my tyre, so it was no surprise in the closing stages of race two when we started losing the times. Overall, I’m really pumped about this weekend. It’s been huge fun and we’ve showed the World what the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team is really capable of. I’ve bagged my first-ever World SBK pole position, mixed-it-up at the sharp-end and enjoyed the racing immensely. A huge thanks to the whole team.”
For team mate Jon Kirkham, a pair of finishes in the points was a positive step forward after struggling in qualifying yesterday. Finishing race one in 14th and going on to set faster times in race two – some 15 seconds faster over race distance – to come home in 15th signified solid progress, when other British Championship riders crashed out of contention.
“Not quite what I hoped for this weekend, but a pair of points-finishes in World Superbike is definitely something to be pleased with and you still can’t beat the feeling of dicing with your heroes like Troy Corser. Crucially we were a day behind really: After my struggles in practice and qualifying – and an attempt to alter my riding style a little after seeing Hopper’s times – I just reverted to my old self today and started to go much better. Anyway, the bonus to take away from this is that we’ve now got a lot of data for the Silverstone BSB round and I can go to Brands Hatch next weekend with plenty of confidence.”
Team Manager – Jack Valentine:
“What a weekend. First we’re fastest in practice, then on Pole position and then dicing for the lead, before rounding the weekend off with two great results and both riders in the points. This was always going to be a challenge, but thanks to the support from all of our sponsors, including Samsung and Fixi, we were able to show the World what we’re capable of and leave Silverstone with our heads held high.
“Hopper rode two great races, JK demonstrated his ability to bounce back despite set-backs and crucially, we leave here with a great deal of data for the BSB round later in the year. Now we head to Brands Hatch this weekend coming full of confidence: A great team effort and huge thanks to the entire team.”
1 Carlos Checa 38m06.477s
2 Eugene Laverty +3.304s
3 Marco Melandri +4.782s
4 Leon Haslam +7.116s
5 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +11.057s
6 Sylvain Guintoli +21.899s
14 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +57.310s
1 Carlos Checa 38m03.361s
2 Eugene Laverty +2.274s
3 Marco Melandri +3.675s
4 Max Biaggi +3.960s
5 Leon Camier +4.405s
6 Sylvain Guintoli +10.958s
7 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) + 11.387s
15 Jon Kirkham Suzuki (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +42.579s