John Hopkins experienced both the highs and the lows of British Superbikes on Sunday at Knockhill, scoring another podium in race one before suffering a painful accident in race two.
The American coped well with the tricky conditions in qualifying to take second on the grid alongside pole sitter Tommy Hill, with championship rival Shane Byrne down in ninth after a crash. Hopkins held off a resurgent Byrne to finish second in the first race of the day, although he had no answer for the pace of Hill who took an easy win.
“Race one went well. I’m glad I had that test session here 11 days ago as the knowledge I gained from that certainly helped. I was riding too tight at the beginning to be able to match Tommy Hill, but as the race progressed I understood the track better and so was able to defend my position against Shane Byrne.”
It became apparent immediately in race two that Hopkins was having problems, and the Crescent Suzuki man started to drop down the order. The problem proved to be a rear tyre issue and it caused him to crash out on lap seven, with Hopkins revealing via his Twitter feed that he had suffered a fractured collar bone joint.
“Right from the start of race two I was struggling with an issue that seriously compromised rear grip. This led me to crash when the bike wouldn’t slow coming into turn two. As I went down I hit my elbow and shoulder on the kerb and so I’m pretty sore, but I should be okay with some rest.”
Despite that, Hopkins was still happy with the state of play in the championship and is confident that the injury won't prevent him from racing at Snetterton in two weeks.
“Fortunately we’re still where we want to be: in the top six, still in second place. And importantly, we racked up more podium credits, which are going to be vital come the Showdown. The bike itself was excellent today and I’m sure we’ll be battling for podiums again come Snetterton in two weeks time.”
The accident for Hopkins also had an effect on teammate Jon Kirkham's race after he was brought down trying to avoid the mayhem. Kirkham stormed back through the field to finish 11th, following on from a strong eighth in race one.
Despite that, Kirkham was frustrated as he had hoped to make up further ground on the top six championship contenders.
“I’m disappointed because I wanted to achieve much more this weekend. We had a brake problem in warm up this morning which meant I didn’t sort a dry setting for the races. Then in race one I had rear grip issues, so finished eighth.”
“In the second race I started from P13. I made a poor start and then straight after the first pace car I found John and his bike sliding on the track immediately in front of me. I went grass tracking to avoid a collision – and slid off. I was so annoyed with myself that I picked up my bike and rode on aggression through to the finish.”
“So, not the weekend I was looking for. I’m looking forward to Snetterton, though; I liked this track when we tested there earlier in the year. I’ll be looking to score better points and make that jump back into the top-six.”
Kirkham did still move up to eighth in the standings and Samsung Crescent Racing's manager Jack Valentine added that Knockhill had still been a successful event for the team.
“Hopper ran another calculated race in the first outing today. With his limited dry-track knowledge it was always going to be difficult for him to match Hill, but his defence against Byrne at the race-end was inspired.”
“What happened in the second race was through no fault of his own. A rear grip issue left him with compromised control and he crashed while trying to overcome that. Inadvertently his crash brought about what was probably the ride of the weekend from JK. His charge from lying last (27th) to finish 11th, passing some top riders on the way, was nothing short of brilliant.”
“All up, we’ve certainly had a tough day. We’re fortunate that we’ve really only sustained minor damages so far as the Championship goes. Hopper’s position looking forward to the Showdown is still very strong and JK has in fact improved his position even if he didn’t leapfrog straight into the top-six as we’d hoped.”
“So we’re looking forward to Snetterton in a fortnight’s time. With the new ‘300’ track layout, Hopper for once, won’t be the only track Rookie – it’ll be the same for everybody. Our goals will remain unchanged: more podium points for Hopper and an uplift to top-six for JK.”