John Hopkins snatched pole position for tomorrow's opening British Superbike race at Oulton Park after timing his best lap to perfection. The Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider set a new lap record in the dying seconds of qualifying to edge out the Swan Yamahas of Tommy Hill and Michael Laverty.
Hopkins seems to have a love-affair with the Cheshire circuit after previously taking his maiden BSB win here in May, and admitted he was not going to settle for second best this time either.
“I had gone past my pit-board twice and saw place two and there was no way that I was going to settle for that, so I pulled the pin and went for it,” explained Hopkins. “My team does a great job for me with the bike and I really enjoy this circuit but it is the races that count and I have to look for strong results. That means wins and podium credits.”
The highlight of the previous meeting at Snetterton was the final lap altercation between Hopkins and championship leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne. Today's qualifying session has set the scene for more fireworks with the HM Plant Honda rider rounding out the front row in fourth.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, a nine-time winner in the BSB at Oulton Park, will be a threat from fifth on the grid while Loris Baz continued his record of qualifying in the top ten at every event with sixth place. Fresh from his World Superbike exploits at Brno, Alex Lowes returned to action for MSS Colchester Kawasaki with seventh place, just ahead of the Tyco Honda of Peter Hickman.
James Westmoreland and Josh Brookes completing the top ten while Graeme Gowland lead the way in the mirror.co.uk EVO class, narrowly pipping WFR Honda teammate Glen Richards.
James Ellison makes his return to the series this weekend aboard the Sorrymate.com Honda but the World Supersport rider could do no better than 19th.