Team Suzuki Press Office – October 3. Samsung Crescent Racing’s John Hopkins leads the 2011 British Superbike Championship as it heads to the final round this weekend at the Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent.
Hopkins and his GSX-R1000 Suzuki have an eight-point lead over nearest rival Tommy Hill but with three races on the programme – equivalent to 75 points to the winner of all three – there’s still everything to race for.
Team-mate Jon Kirkham in turn leads the Riders’ Cup for the best rider outside of the Title Fighter’s Showdown; and with top-five and podium finishes in recent rounds, he looks set to make the Cup his, while also lending valuable support to Hopkins in the battle at the front.
“I’m really keen to get started into the weekend. The points-gap that I have is a great advantage but not really a comfort. The strategy still has to be ‘race to win’ as anything less and we won’t have the Championship, but I’m confident we can do just that. The Samsung Crescent Suzuki has a great set-up, I love riding it and with the data we took from our previous visit to the GP circuit – together with the track knowledge I gained – it puts us in a strong position coming in.
“My injured finger gets stronger each day and I don’t expect it to be a problem. Again I’ll have to manage it – and with three races there’ll be a lot of work to do – but I think we proved at Donington Park and Silverstone that it’s not affecting my racing. There’s mental pressure as well, but it’s nothing new to me; nothing I can’t deal with. The job stays the same: go for the holeshot, take the lead and stay out of trouble. Get the win. It’s racing. I love it!”
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I love the circuit and so after having a bad time here earlier in the year I’ll be going all-out to put in the best performance and finish the year on a high. I’ve got the bike the way I like it now so I’m aiming to be there in the leading pack again. I want to get the points to make the Riders’ Cup mine, but if along the way my being in there helps John’s Championship, then so much the better.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager:
“Showdown time! Here we are again – just as last year so let’s hope we can finish the job this time. As a team we’re preparing the way we always do – everything 100% and everything sorted so we give our riders everything they need to do the job.
“With just eight points in the lead we’re nowhere near applying tactics; we’re in the same boat as everyone and we have to win races to win the Championship. Maybe if we get a win in the first race on Saturday we might be able to play tactical on Sunday, but we know it’s when you start being too clever, or start relaxing – that’s when the problems come. For the riders, they prefer to race to win, it’s probably the safest strategy.
“Hopper’s a great racer in any case. He’s shown all season long that he can respond to challenges and I don’t see anything changing this weekend. Business as usual for him. JK’s had a brilliant end to the year. Mid-season it got away from him for a bit, but since Cadwell Park he’s been brilliant, he’s on the pace all-race; and his race craft improves with every battle. His presence in the top-five could yet make every difference to the Championship outcome. Everything is readied: the riders, the bikes; the team. Let’s race!”