John Hopkins gears up for Ducati debut at Brands Hatch
2011 British Superbike Championship runner-up John Hopkins is preparing for his return to the series aboard the Ducati Panigale this weekend at Brands Hatch (17-19 July).
- 2011 BSB runner up returns to the action
- Hopkins deputising for injured Jakub Smrz
- Confidence high following successful test
The former MotoGP and World Superbike Championship star will race for the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati squad in place of Jakub Smrz, who has had to sit out this round of Britainís biggest racing series due to injury.
Hopkins has never raced a Ducati before, but was instantly in tune with the 1199 Superbike when he tested at Brands Hatch last week. With a similar riding style to the former BSB pole-sitter Smrz, the set-up of the bike needed little altering to get ĎHopperí comfortable and he was soon posting lap times within 0.5s of the fastest circulations from the earlier round at Brands Hatch in April.
Whatís more, with some temporary changes in the rules that mean top riders can win double points by opting to start at the back of the field, there could be even more opportunities for the squad to score some strong results around the iconic Grand Prix circuit. Hopkins said:
"You donít forget how to ride, itís just a matter of blowing the cobwebs off. I was more nervous of the fact that Iíve never ridden a Ducati before Ė but I was shocked. Iím in awe of how I felt on the bike, we didnít touch a single setting Ė I just felt right at home from the start.
ďThe competition in BSB this year is going to be fierce Ė there are a lot of fast people out there and some top riders are finishing outside the top 15! It wont be easy, but I think this bike is going to be extremely competitive Ė itís quite easily capable of running right at the front, and hopefully Iím good enough to take it there.Ē Steve Moore, team principal at Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati, said:
ďItís great that weíre able to be out racing at Brands Hatch this weekend. It was really tough for everyone in the team at Snetterton when we had yet more bad luck when we were in such a strong position. I think Hopper is going to do a great job and Iím really glad we were able to make this work Ė with the rule shake-up it might give us even more opportunities!Ē