John Hopkins is expecting a tough time on his first visit to Thruxton as he looks to keep himself in contention for the British Superbike Championship.
The Crescent Suzuki star has made a seamless transition to BSB with four consecutive podiums, including a win at Oulton Park, and is only three points behind series leader Shane Byrne.
But Hopkins believes his limited experience will definitely be a disadvantage at the high-speed Hampshire circuit, and is keeping his expectations in check.
“I think this will definitely be a difficult weekend for us, especially with me not having done anything more than two hire car laps of the circuit. But we’ll approach it like any other weekend and look to do the best possible job.”
“We’re in a competitive situation – I don’t think before the season started, even on my most optimistic day, I would have predicted I’d be in second place now, just a few points off the lead. But I’m not going to let that alter my approach; the goal has always been to be in the top six, learning as much as I can as I go, so that I’m best-placed come the three-round Showdown at the end of the year – that’s when everything really has to come together.”
Jon Kirkham arrives at Thruxton full of confidence after claiming his first British Superbike win at the 116th attempt at Croft, but his came to a painful end after a crash with Michael Laverty in race two.
The Derby rider has admitted he's still feeling the after effects of that shunt, but he won't let them hold him back this weekend.
“I’m definitely still sore after the Croft crash. I think if it hadn’t been for the air fences I’d be in a much worst state, but anytime two bikes chase you into a barrier you’re going to feel a little second-hand.”
“I’m looking forward to Thruxton, though. I’ve had some success there with an R1 Cup race win and I nearly won a Superstock race there (not last year). So I’ll aim to have two solid finishes and see if I can improve my position in the top-six. I’m usually a consistent rider so for my results to read like they have this year – with two DNFs – is not typical me. I’ll look to correct that and push on.”
Jack Valentine, Team Manager of Samsung Crescent Racing, is encouraged by Kirkham's continued progress but he also agrees that Hopkins is in line for his toughest test yet in BSB.
“I’m hoping JK gets a good run this weekend. We’ve seen his results improve as he’s implemented all that he learnt in pre-season testing. He always had top-six speed, and now his results are reflecting that. I’m expecting more good news on his account this weekend.”
“Hopper has a mammoth task ahead of him, learning a dauntingly-fast and tricky circuit. But no doubt he’ll do exactly as he has done so far this season – do his own thing, letting the speed come to him. It’s a big ask to see him on the podium again, but he’s shown four-times on the bounce that he has the capability to do exactly that.”
Valentine also added his name to the growing list of personalities offering their best wishes to Stuart Easton, whose season came to a premature end after a serious accident at last weekend's North West 200.
“Finally, I’d just like to say a Get Well Soon to Stuart Easton from all of us. Our thoughts are with him and his family after his NW200 crash. We will miss him at Thruxton. We hope to see him and his family back with us as soon as is comfortably possible.”