After a mixed weekend at Brands Hatch, Samsung Crescent Racing will be hoping to get their 2011 BSB campaign back on track when the series moves to Oulton Park.
John Hopkins was given a tough introduction to life in BSB after failing to make it into Q3 in qualifying. The former MotoGP star was making good progress in race one before crashing out at Druids.
'Hopper' showed his class in race two though as he finished a strong fifth, and the American admitted afterwards that the BSB was every bit as challenging as he thought it would be.
“I guess it was everything I expected – not for one minute I have imagined this task to be a walk in the park – but it certainly brought it back to me that I have to take this job step-by-step.”
“Oulton Park is the next step; quite a big one at that. I first visited the circuit a fortnight ago for a track day on a road bike, so that I’d get an idea of where it goes and what the challenges will be. And, oh yes, there are lots of ups and downs and no question you have to know where you’re going if you’re to get a fast lap time. I’m in no doubt, this weekend I’ve a lot of work to do.”
His haul of eleven points was matched by teammate Jon Kirkham, who made an excellent start to his debut season in British Superbikes. The Derby rider upstaged a number of experienced names on his way to fifth in race one before being cruelly forced to miss race two.
Kirkham is hoping to make up for that this weekend, but is expecting a tough challenge at the Cheshire circuit.
“After Brands Hatch, I want to bag two good finishes from this weekend. To not make the start of second race last weekend – because of one very small part – that was massively disappointing. So coming here I’m ready to pull in a lot more points.
“I feel for Hopper having to learn this place from scratch, but for me Oulton Park has to be my favourite track; I simply love this place. And tracks like this really show the difference between the true Superbikes and the Evo bikes in the class – which I rode last year – so I’m really looking forward to what I’m sure is going to be an exciting ride.”
With only six riders advancing to the end of season 'Championship Shootout', Team Manager Jack Valentine has stressed the importance of scoring consistent points, and hopes the Suzuki powered team can start doing that this weekend.
“Coming to Oulton Park the team has a lot of work to do. The past two seasons we’ve led into this round – this year the lads are equal 10th. That’s down to the manic nature of Brands Hatch and not a little bad luck. But both Hopper and JK showed they can do the lap times, they both took away a top-five finish and proved they can run at the front.”
“So this weekend will be about hauling in as many points as we can to get the both of them closer to, if not in, the vital Title Fighters top-six bracket. That’s an intermediate goal, of course. Both our riders can, and will, be podium contenders, we’ve 11 more rounds to run, so much can happen.”