John Hopkins is now guaranteed of a place in the Championship Showdown after a brace of podium finishes on Sunday at Brands Hatch. The races were not without difficulty for the American though who was battling a gear shift problem in the first race of the day.
“It all went well today. We had a little issue with shifting gear in that first race and so I couldn’t ride as hard as I’d like to have, but I was very happy to pick up that last podium credit. In the second race the bike was perfect and everything was great but Tommy Hill rode really well; I couldn’t have ridden any harder; it hurts to be beaten, but we did what was needed.”
Third and second in the day's two races confirmed him as a title challenger in the closing races of the year and Hopkins is now targeting the podium at every available opportunity, starting at Cadwell Park in three weeks.
“Importantly I’m now secure in the top six for the Showdown and that’s exciting and something I can really look forward to. Going to Cadwell Park I don’t need to worry about Championship points and will instead ride for the podium credits – they’re most-important now. Once again the team proved just how good it is this weekend, sorting the shifter-issues between races today and the bike was perfect for that last race. We’re looking set for a great time at Cadwell Park.”
Teammate Jon Kirkham finished in the top ten in all three races but was still disappointed at the end of the weekend, with the gap to the top six now up to 23 points with Cadwell Park the last chance to qualify for the Showdown.
“I should be happy with that after my recent run of bad luck, but I can’t be totally happy though: The first race today was hard work, so to come away with a second-row start for the last race was a good outcome. But then I got trapped in the pack on turn one and all the good work was undone. I got some decent lap times in but got stuck behind another rider, so the result could have been better.”
“I know the Title Fighters really is a long shot for me now: 24 points doesn’t sound so much but at this level all the riders know how to get results. I’ve still got the goal to improve my results though and I think top-six finishes are achievable – as long as I get my starts sorted! I’m still looking to improve.”
Samsung Crescent Suzuki Team Manager Jack Valentine described it as a successful weekend but accepts that it will now be difficult to get both riders into the championship showdown.
‘It’s been a tough but successful weekend. We’ve got a strong set of results. Overall I think Hopper netted the most points of any rider this weekend – again he’s been a consistent and strong points scorer, showing the kind of form which is going to be decisive come the Showdown. He’s off to Brno now for a little MotoGP action and the whole team is willing him to do well; he’s on top form.”
“JK had a better weekend. Unfortunately so did the other riders around him who are all vying for that final spot on the Title Fighters list. He’s only 24 points off that sixth position and with three races to run at Cadwell Park; mathematically he could do it, but I think we’ll need quite a few factors to come into play for it to go his way and we have to be realistic. The important thing is JK is showing good form. I can see he’s riding with a lot more confidence and building on this weekend, top-six finishes at Cadwell Park should be possible.”